Congress Passes Disaster Relief Package

Congress passed on February 9 a disaster relief package signed into law by President Trump as part of a larger budget bill that lifted the Budget Control Act spending caps on defense and domestic spending for two years and raised the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019.  The new disaster spending package provides $89.3 billion in additional emergency funds for communities impacted by the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires. The legislation developed by Senate leadership is $8 billion more than the bill passed in the House in December and more than twice the amount requested by the White House.

The aid package includes $28 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDGB-DR) funding - $2 billion more than the House-approved version. Of this amount, up to $16 billion is to address unmet needs, including $11 billion that will be allocated to state and local governments impacted by Hurricane Maria, with $2 billion of that set aside for rebuilding the electrical grids in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The remaining $12 billion is set aside for mitigation projects. Up to $15 million of the CDBG-DR funds can be used to provide capacity building and technical assistance. The bill provides the HUD secretary with a number of limitations and special authorities.

While this bill is a significant improvement over the House and White House versions, it does not include many of the resources and tools recommended by the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition to ensure that the disaster recovery reaches all households, including those with the lowest incomes. The bill does not include the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), a proven solution to the longer term housing needs of low income disaster survivors, a requirement to collect and make public data to ensure that the needs of low income people and communities are met, and additional housing-specific resources to ensure that the severe shortage of affordable rental homes in disaster-impacted communities is not worsened.

Read NLIHC’s analysis of the bill at:

Read the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition’s press statement on the bill at: