Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Implement Important Reforms for Long-Term Disaster Recovery Funding

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Todd Young (R-IN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” on July 22. The bill is strongly supported by NLIHC and its Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – a group of over 850 local, state, and national, organizations working to ensure that all disaster survivors receive the assistance they need to fully recover. The bipartisan bill contains critical reforms proposed by DHRC members to help ensure the federal government’s long-term disaster recovery program, the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, better serves disaster survivors with the lowest incomes and their communities.

The CDBG-DR program is currently unauthorized, meaning that HUD must create and publish new rules and regulations each time funds are approved by Congress for the program. These additional requirements prevent sorely needed long-term recover funds from reaching disaster survivors quickly. The “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act” would permanently authorize the CDBG-DR program and direct HUD to codify program requirements, allowing states to anticipate program rules and prepare before disasters strike. The bill would also cement the requirement that funds be used to assist low-income disaster survivors, authorize “quick-release” funding to support state and local capacity in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and allow HUD to assist disaster-damaged communities without waiting for congressional approval.

“Right now, the law mandates that communities in crisis wait for Congress to pass a disaster funding bill before they can even apply for help from HUD,” said Senator Schatz, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, in a press release announcing the introduction. “This bill changes the law so they no longer have to wait. As soon as a disaster strikes, HUD can help communities begin the process of recovery.”

“With natural disasters increasing in frequency and intensity, it is critical that states have the necessary resources to respond in order to protect public safety, property, and our economy,” said Senator Collins, ranking member of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, in the same press release. “Our bipartisan legislation would allow communities to immediately focus on helping families and local businesses recover instead of navigating the federal bureaucracy in the wake of a natural disaster.”

Read the text of the bill at:

Read Senator Schatz’s press release announcing the introduction at: