Senators Introduce Bill to Activate Disaster Housing Assistance Program

Eight senators introduced the “Housing Victims of Major Disasters Act of 2018 on May 31.  The bill would require FEMA to enter into an interagency agreement with the HUD to implement the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), which would provide temporary rental assistance and wrap-around services to those displaced by Hurricane Maria and future disasters. Ensuring disaster victims in need are able to receive DHAP vouchers has been a top priority of NLIHC’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition. The bill’s introduction comes in response to FEMA’s May 15 denial of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello’s request for DHAP five months earlier.

The bill was introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

In a press release from Senators Warren, NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel offered strong support for the bill on behalf of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition and its more than 700 member organizations.  "By rejecting Puerto Rico Governor Rossello's call for assistance more than five months ago,” she stated, “FEMA has chosen to deny vulnerable survivors, including the lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children, the stable homes they need to get back on their feet. It is vital that Congress enact Senator Warren's bill immediately, before the new hurricane season threatens to put even more families at risk of evictions and, in worst cases, homelessness."

Senators Markey and Warren emphasized the need for congressional action on DHAP in an op-ed: “If the Trump Administration continues to turn its back on these U.S. citizens in need, it’s time for Congress to act.” The proposed bill would require FEMA to provide DHAP for Hurricane Maria survivors within 15 days of the bill’s enactment.

Read the press release at:

Read the text of the bill at:

Read the op-ed at: