Senators Urge Creation of Disaster Housing Assistance Program

A group of 12 senators sent a letter on November 15 to FEMA Administrator Brock Long and HUD Secretary Ben Carson urging them to better coordinate hurricane recovery housing efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The letter specifically encourages FEMA and HUD to establish a Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) that would utilize public housing agencies to meet the post-disaster housing needs of low income households. This is a top priority for the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition. The senators note that this recommendation is particularly important given that the devastation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have caused thousands of the territories’ residents to leave the islands for the mainland U.S.  Housing assistance is needed both on the islands and in the states to which the evacuees have moved.

The senators ask HUD and FEMA to provide answers to questions about current post-disaster housing resources and unmet needs, specifically:

  • Current resources available to quickly and properly house displaced people, both those on the islands and those who have evacuated;
  • The number of HUD-assisted households impacted by Irma and Maria and efforts to house them;
  • Deadlines for temporary, medium-term, and long-term housing options;
  • Options available for households and housing authorities on the islands and mainland given the extent of the devastation;

Data gaps that are preventing benefits from flowing efficiently to families in need.