FEMA Holds Civil Rights Summit on Equity; NLIHC Speaks on Panel of Leaders for Equitable Disaster Recovery

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) held a day-long Civil Rights Summit, “CR Summit 2.0,” on November 17. The summit, hosted by FEMA’s Office of Equal Rights (OER), included updates from FEMA on its efforts to improve equity in its Individual Assistance, Hazard Mitigation Grant, and other programs. Opening the summit, FEMA Administrator Diane Criswell highlighted the agency’s recent efforts to advance equity, while promising to continue these efforts. FEMA personnel also detailed the importance of highlighting racial and economic inequality as the agency continues its mission of assisting communities before, during, and after disasters. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel spoke on a panel of leaders for equitable disaster recovery.

Although a variety of FEMA programs were addressed throughout the day, discussion around specific equity issues experienced by historically marginalized communities were sparse, except for the final panel—a discussion with leaders for equitable disaster recovery. The panel included NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel; Pacific Union Conference Director Charlene Sargent; National Council on Independent Living Executive Director Reyma McCoy McDeid; NAACP Director of Partnerships Annalise Setorie; and League of United Latin American Citizens Director of Policy and Legislation Bill Moreno. Panelists discussed specific issues of inequality perpetuated by FEMA programs and the changes needed.

The panel encouraged FEMA to increase its equity efforts, while highlighting the reforms still needed to make the country’s disaster recovery system equitable. “NLIHC has worked on disaster housing recovery for 15 years since Hurricane Katrina and, from this experience, we have reached a simple conclusion: America’s disaster housing recovery system is fundamentally broken,” said Diane. “It consistently exacerbates the housing crisis, solidifies segregation and racial inequities, and deepens inequality. Reform is possible and long-overdue.”

Access NLIHC resources on Disaster Recovery at: https://bit.ly/3HFAJW0