Support for permanently authorizing the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program is building in the Biden administration and in Congress. If enacted, the DHRC-endorsed “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” would permanently authorize the CDBG-DR program and provide important safeguards and tools to help ensure that federal disaster recovery efforts reach all impacted households.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on May 12, “Addressing Climate Change with Energy-Efficient and Resilient Housing.”
Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) is urging FEMA to include toxic algal blooms in its list of hazards that could be the subject of presidential disaster declarations.
National Hurricane Preparedness week, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), took place May 1-7. The week is meant to remind those living in areas at risk of hurricanes to assess their personal risks, develop emergency plans, and start replenishing emergency kits. FEMA’s Ready Campaign Hurricane Season Preparedness Digital Toolkit includes resources that can be used by advocates to share critical information about what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.
Current and former FEMA employees with AFGE Local 4060 succeeded in their efforts to receive payments for unpaid overtime work at the agency. Their claim was settled for $16.5 million.
State and Local
A bill introduced in California, “Affordable Disaster Housing Revolving Development and Acquisition Program (AB 1945),” seeks to shorten the amount of time it takes for survivors of wildfire disasters to access long-term recovery assistance. The bill aims to address the slow pace of distribution of federal long-term recovery funds through the creation of a bridge loan program.
Residents of Panama City are still recovering from Hurricane Michael. Member organizations of Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs), including DHRC member SBP, continue to assist residents during their recovery.
Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) joined FEMA Region 5 Administrator Thomas Sivak for a tour of flood damage in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
President Biden approved New Mexico’s request for a disaster declaration as a result of ongoing wildfires outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The president approved requests for both Public Assistance and Individual Assistance in five counties, making fire survivors eligible for temporary housing and home-repair grants. The designated counties for FEMA Individual Assistance are Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, San Miguel, and Valencia counties.
HUD announced on May 6 the implementation of federal disaster assistance for New Mexico disaster survivors.
Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams and damage assessment inspectors from FEMA are expected to visit New Mexico communities to answer questions about available assistance and help residents apply for state and federal aid.
New Jersey plans to use at least $50 million of the $288 million provided by HUD through the CDBG-DR program to purchase flood-damaged or flood-prone homes.
Oregon has released its draft plan for $422 million in HUD CDBG-DR funding as a result of the 2020 wildfire season. The plan focuses on the creation of permanent housing. Public meetings will be held throughout the month of May to discuss the plan.
A study published in December 2021 in the Journal of Economic Studies, “Tornadoes, Poverty, and Race in the USA: A Five-Decade Analysis,” examines how tornados have exacerbated racial segregation in the U.S. through abandonment and displacement.