As part of an administration-wide push to advance equity and racial justice across the federal government (see related article in this Memo), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released an Equity Action Plan on April 14. The releases of the plans by FEMA and fellow government departments and agencies were pursuant to Executive Order 13985 issued on January 20, 2021.
FEMA’s plan states that the agency has already begun work on integrating equity into strategic plans, goals, priorities, programs, and activities with an objective of ensuring that underserved communities can access resources to meet their needs. The plan also states that the agency will work to ensure that these communities are routinely consulted about equity requirements and that the agency will direct resources to eliminate disparate outcomes in disaster recovery and response programs.
In addition to integrating equity into its procurement procedures, Public Assistance program, and the National Flood Insurance program, FEMA will also promote equitable outcomes for disaster survivors in its Individual Assistance program, support at-risk communities in planning and mitigating disaster impacts, and invest in resources to advance civil rights via its Office of Equal Rights (OER).
The plan describes recent actions by FEMA to advance equity, including developing FEMA-wide equity definitions, reviewing agency-wide policies for equity via an Equity Enterprise Steering Group, improving how FEMA collects demographic information of disaster survivors to ensure disparities are addressed, and connecting with external stakeholders for input on FEMA programs via a Federal Register Notice Request for Information – which NLIHC’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition commented on.
While the agency has made strides towards become more equitable, the agency has more work to do. Most recently, individuals living in FEMA Temporary Housing Units in Oregon and Louisiana were issued rent notices and pressured to exit their units due to the expiration of assistance. NLIHC and members of the Louisiana and Oregon delegations requested that rent requirements be waived, but thus far FEMA has not responded.
Read FEMA’s Equity Action Plan here: https://bit.ly/3xuvF3U