Disaster Housing Advocates Hold Hill Briefing on Reforming America’s Disaster Recovery System

NLIHC and fellow disaster advocates held a public briefing for Capitol Hill staff on September 10 outlining needed reforms to the nation’s disaster recovery and response system. The reforms – described in a recent report published by NLIHC and the Fair Share Housing Center – would center disaster response around low-income and marginalized households who often experience the worst damage but receive the least amount of assistance to recover. The report’s reforms were set at a policy convening of the Disaster Housing recovery Coalition (DHRC), an NLIHC-led coalition of over 850 local, state, and national groups working in disaster recovery. The report is split into two parts, the first examines the barriers preventing complete disaster recoveries and the second addresses needed reforms and recommendations.

The briefing featured an overview of report findings, followed by a panel of disaster advocates from across the country. Sara Buck, Housing Services Manager at the City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, spoke about derecho survivors with nowhere to go after Red Cross Shelters closed and hotels filled up in the aftermath of the storm. Andreanecia Morris, Executive Director at HousingLOUISIANA, spoke about the lasting legacies of Hurricane Katrina and the importance of not repeating similar mistakes during Hurricane Laura recovery. Ariadna Michelle Godreau-Aubert, Executive Director of Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, spoke about the slow and disconnected actions of local and federal governments and how it has extended the time it will take for Puerto Rico to fully recover from Hurricane Maria. Chrishelle Palay, Executive Director of the Houston Organizing Movement for Equity (HOME) Coalition, spoke about the need to uphold the rights of communities amid recovery and mitigation efforts. David Rammler of the Fair Share Housing Center of New Jersey spoke to the effects of redlining and the lack of affordable housing on Hurricane Sandy recovery.

Recent disasters like Hurricane Laura, the ongoing wildfires in the west, and the Iowa derecho have underscored that disasters are occurring more frequently and severely due to climate change. In this new reality, a reimagining of disaster response and recovery is needed to ensure that low income households – including individuals with disabilities, immigrants and people with low English proficiency, individuals experiencing homelessness, and communities of color – are able to survive and recover equitably. In the wake of these recent disasters, the DHRC will continue to push for these reforms in Congress as assistance packages are developed.

Watch a recording of the briefing here: https://youtu.be/p6Kr1FAP_UI

Part 1 of the Reforming America’s Broken Disaster Recovery System Report is at: https://bit.ly/3hrphyF

Part 2 of the Reforming America’s Broken Disaster Recovery System Report is at: https://bit.ly/3k7g6p0

DHRC’s Top Priorities for a Disaster Recovery Package are at: https://bit.ly/2RiTxBy