Washington DC – The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) of over 650 national, state and local organizations, led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), commends Congress for passing a disaster relief bill today that provides robust resources to help communities rebuild and recover from the recent hurricanes and wildfires. With $28 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, the bill is a significant improvement over the grossly inadequate White House proposal. This is due, in part, to strong advocacy from people in disaster-impacted communities and the leadership of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), among many others.
Unfortunately, some of the housing resources and tools most needed were not included in the disaster relief bill. This includes the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), which provides direct rental assistance and services to low income, displaced families. Without DHAP, tens of thousands of families are still living in hotels through FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance program, and low income families that have been shut out of the hotel program have had no choice but to move into uninhabitable or overcrowded homes, stay at shelters, or sleep in cars or on the streets. The disaster bill also did not include safeguards to ensure that federal resources are allocated equitably to address the needs of homeowners, renters, and people experiencing homelessness nor specifically designated housing resources, like the national Housing Trust Fund and others, to address the severe shortage of affordable rental homes in these communities.
As disaster recovery resources are deployed to communities in need, the DHRC will continue to engage the Trump administration and state and local governments to ensure that struggling families have an affordable place to call home while they get back on their feet and that federal resources, including investments in housing, public infrastructure, and environmental remediation, are allocated equitably and adequately to meet the needs of low income people and communities.
The lowest income people – including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, people experiencing homelessness, and other vulnerable populations – are often hardest-hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recovery. Many lower-income neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods of people of color, have historically lacked essential public infrastructure, including protection from disasters.
“Every family, including those with the lowest incomes, and every neighborhood, regardless of the race, ethnicity, economic status, or disability of the residents, deserve equal access to the housing and infrastructure resources they need to not only recover, but to thrive,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We will continue to amplify the voices of advocates on the ground in disaster-impacted areas, calling for a fair and equitable recovery.”
The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition is a group of over 650 local, state, and national organizations dedicated to ensuring the federal response to recent hurricanes prioritizes the housing needs of the lowest income people in the impacted areas. The group, which is led by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, has already begun work with local partners affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and by the recent California wildfires, as well as with HUD, FEMA, and members of Congress.