The continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress on September 30 included $28.6 billion in disaster relief supplemental appropriation. The funding had long been pursued by elected officials in Louisiana and other areas of the country struck by disasters over the last two years. The measure passed by a vote of 65-35 in the Senate and a vote of 254-175 in the House. The funding had been pursued strongly by the Louisiana congressional delegation, although two members of the delegation, Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Mike Johnson (R-LA), voted against the bill. The state has yet to receive any long-term federal recovery funding – funds desperately needed since hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta struck the state in 2020.
The supplemental funding includes $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, which can be used for long-term housing recovery. Of these funds, $1.61 billion will be directed to areas that experienced disasters in 2020. An additional $40 million provides civil legal services working in disaster areas. The bulk of the remaining funding will be used for agricultural subsidies for disaster-impacted farmers.
With these important CDBG-DR funds approved, HUD now has 30 days to appropriate the funding to the various states that suffered disasters in 2020 and 2021. Allocations will be made based on the unmet needs of disaster-stricken communities in each state. HUD will then release regulations for the program, and states will then draft action plans describing the planned use of the funds. HUD must approve these plans before signing grant agreements with each state.
A recent Urban Institute review of the CDBG-DR process found that the housing rehabilitation process can take an average of 3.7 years, due to the program lacking official authorization. The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition – a group of over 850 local, state, and national organizations working to ensure that all disaster survivors receive the assistance they need to fully recover – continues to support the “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” to accelerate this process. That bill, introduced by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Todd Young (R-IN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representative Al Green (D-TX), would permanently authorize the CDBG-DR program and ensure that funding reaches those most in need of assistance after a disaster.
Read a summary of the disaster relief supplemental at: https://bit.ly/3D4DAV4
Learn more about the “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” at: https://sforce.co/3B06iWC