NLIHC’s DHRC Calls on FEMA to Authorize Greater Levels of Assistance, Waive Cost-Share Requirements in Response to Wildfires

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor urging FEMA to take immediate action to protect the health and safety of people experiencing homelessness and ensure housing stability for the lowest-income survivors displaced by the wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and California. The letter – sent on behalf of the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition, which is comprised of more than 850 national, state, and local organizations, including many organizations working directly with disaster-impacted communities – calls on FEMA to make available the greatest possible range of assistance programs and waive current state cost-share requirements to help quickly move unsheltered individuals to safety and ensure that survivors have a stable, affordable place to call home while they get back on their feet.

The letter outlines both immediate and longer-term health and housing needs of unsheltered individuals and displaced, low-income survivors due to the dangerous wildfires and ongoing pandemic. It calls on FEMA to immediately approve state requests to activate all available programs and resources, including Individual Assistance (IA), Public Assistance (PA), Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA), and the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP). The letter also urges FEMA to implement reforms in the short and long term to ensure people experiencing homelessness, those with the lowest incomes, and other marginalized survivors have equal access to disaster assistance.

Given the severity and speed with which these fires are spreading, and because many state and local budgets are depleted from COVID-19 response, the letter calls on FEMA to waive current state cost-share requirements. FEMA is authorized to increase the federal cost-share to 100% for emergency work, including Direct Federal Assistance. “We believe that the size and scale of the wildfires, in combination with the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes Yentel, “far exceed the response capabilities of these states and warrant the full force and support of the federal government.”

Read the full text of the letter at: