Washington, D.C. – On behalf of more than 700 local, state, and national organizations in the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC), the National Low Income Housing Coalition issued a letter condemning FEMA Administrator Brock Long on the agency’s misleading statements to the public and federal officials on its refusal to implement proven longer-term housing solutions, including the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), for families displaced by the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires.
Since the first hurricane made landfall, FEMA officials had informed the DHRC, as well as other advocates and Congressional offices, that the agency was unable to implement DHAP because the program had not been requested by a Governor of an impacted state or territory. In a letter dated May 15, 2018, FEMA acknowledged that Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello formally requested DHAP in December 2017 to help ensure displaced seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children have the housing stability needed to get back on their feet. In the letter, FEMA rejected the Governor’s request.
DHAP was created after FEMA’s failure to respond to the long term housing needs of Hurricane Katrina survivors, and it has been used successfully after past hurricanes, including Rita, Gustav, and Ike, as well as Superstorm Sandy. Under the program, survivors with the greatest needs are provided direct rental assistance and wrap-around case management services to help them find permanent housing solutions, secure employment, and connect to public benefits. The program has been upheld as a best practice by past Republican and Democratic administrations.
“We now know that FEMA misled the public and federal officials about why it continues to refuse to implement longer-term housing solutions for disaster survivors. With FEMA’s rejection of the Puerto Rican Governor’s request for DHAP, the agency has made clear that the housing needs of vulnerable families are not a priority for them.”
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.