Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced “Disaster Assistance Simplification Act” on September 26. The legislation addresses existing issues between HUD’s disaster assistance programs and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) disaster loan program, which provides low-interest loans to homeowners to help them repair their homes after a disaster. In the past, homeowners eligible for SBA disaster loans have had the amount of the loan they qualified for deducted from other assistance received from HUD, whether or not they accepted the loan. Removing the loan amount from subsequent assistance awards was done to prevent a “duplication of benefits” wherein one government program is paying off debt accrued as part of a separate government program. More recently, Congress included a provision in its disaster supplemental bill to prevent HUD from discounting the value of the loan from other assistance for the recent disasters.
Senator Rubio’s Disaster Assistance Simplification Act would codify for all future disasters this prohibition of HUD’s removing the loan amount from disaster assistance awards or considering whether individuals had applied for, but not accepted, SBA loans. If enacted, some advocates worry that not deducting the loan could continue to divert scarce recovery dollars away from the lowest-income disaster survivors who are ineligible for SBA disaster loans.
Read the text of the bill at: https://tinyurl.com/y4rxy3zg