Disaster Recovery Advocates Send Letter to FEMA, HUD, and White House Calling for Housing Solutions

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice on behalf of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – a group of over 850 local, state, and national organizations working to ensure that low-income households can access disaster assistance. The letter calls for the implementation of the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to stably house the lowest-income and most marginalized survivors of Hurricane Ida.

DHAP, which provides disaster survivors with portable housing vouchers that last up to three years, has not been utilized during recent disasters despite being endorsed as a best practice by both Republican and Democratic administrations in the past. The program was developed from lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina and was successfully used during Hurricanes Ike, Rita, and Gustav, as well as Superstorm Sandy. Jointly administered by HUD and FEMA, the program provides displaced families with case-management services through local housing professionals with extensive knowledge of the local and regional housing market. As a result of this longer-term assistance and local expertise, disaster survivors can find permanent housing solutions, secure employment, and connect to public benefits as they rebuild.

FEMA is required to draft an agreement with HUD to stand up the program, but in recent years the agency has resisted the use of DHAP in favor of its Direct Lease program, which provides assistance for only 18 months. Although FEMA has made claims that the program is less efficient and more costly than its other housing programs, the Government Accountability Office found in late 2020 that the agency did not collect the data needed to make such a determination.

“Failure to provide effective housing assistance for disaster survivors will disproportionately harm people of color and members of other historically marginalized communities – who are more likely to be precariously housed before a disaster occurs and least able to access FEMA resources after a disaster,” Diane states in the letter. “Activating DHAP for the lowest-income and most marginalized survivors is an important step towards a more equitable federal disaster housing recovery framework – a goal shared by the Biden administration.”

Read the letter at: https://bit.ly/3lqFuK4

Learn more about DHAP at: https://bit.ly/2YzVKz2