'Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019’ Introduced in Senate

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019” in the Senate on July 26. The legislation, S. 2301, is a companion to a House bill of the same name introduced by Representatives Al Green (D-TX) and Ann Wagner (R-MO), which passed unanimously out of the House Financial Services Committee on July 16.

The bills are an important milestone for equitable disaster housing recovery and rebuilding. The DHRC’s members worked closely with bill sponsors over the past two years to draft and advance this legislation. The final bill includes virtually all the critical reforms proposed by DHRC members to help ensure the federal government’s long-term disaster recovery program – Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grants – better serve the lowest-income survivors and their communities. If enacted, the bill would help target CDBG-DR resources to survivors with the greatest needs, ensure greater data transparency and oversight, protect civil rights and fair housing, and encourage disaster mitigation and resiliency.

The Senate bill also includes some improvements from the House bill, including:

  • Creating an Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilient Communities at HUD to coordinate the agency’s disaster response;
  • Requiring FEMA, HUD and SBA to develop a common application; and
  • Allowing HUD to provide housing assistance to people experiencing homelessness and at risk of homelessness who are not receiving housing assistance from FEMA.

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel was quoted in a press statement released by Senator Young’s office on the importance of the legislation. “Our country’s disaster housing recovery system consistently leaves the lowest-income people and communities behind,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Senator Schatz’s and Senator Young’s bill is an important step towards ensuring that federal recovery and rebuilding dollars better reach those who need it most - the lowest income people and their communities. NLIHC and our Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition of over 800 organizations urge Congress to quickly enact this important bill.”

Read the text of the bill at: https://bit.ly/2OuLbrA

Read a fact sheet on the bill at: https://bit.ly/32W7Kso

Read Senator Young’s press release at: https://bit.ly/2ycOrNu