Diane writes “Hurricanes Harvey and Irma’s devastating floods, wind and storm surge are affecting millions of residents in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. As with most disasters, those with the lowest incomes and the greatest vulnerabilities — who frequently reside in the area’s flood plains and who have the fewest resources to recover from such a disaster — are the hardest hit. Altogether, more than 8 million people had to evacuate from their homes and, while many will return quickly, many more may be displaced for weeks, months, or even years. Assisting and re-housing those with the lowest incomes must be a priority for federal, state, and local governments.”
On September 8, 2017, Congress approved on September 8 a bill to provide $15 billion in disaster relief, fund the government, and raise the federal debt limit through December 8. President Trump signed the measure into law on the same day.
The law provides $7.4 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund,
$450 million in Small Business Administration disaster loans, and
$7.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.
Under the newly enacted law, FEMA will have flexibility to respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as other disasters. But unfortunately, significantly more funding will be needed to help all affected areas recover and rebuild.
NLIHC was one of twenty-three organizations to issue a joint statement calling on Congress to swiftly appropriate funds for Hurricane Harvey relief, and to do so with emergency funding that is not offset by cuts to other important programs.
The statement asserts that the rebuilding process must result in a smarter and fairer distribution of affordable housing so that options available to low income people, particularly low income people of color, are not limited to high-poverty, highly segregated, geographically vulnerable neighborhoods.
“It’s ironic that the White House requested robust funding for this program, when just months earlier the administration proposed entirely eliminating the CDBG program in its FY18 spending request. The program’s elimination would not only mean starving local communities of the funding needed to build affordable homes and revitalize distressed neighborhoods, but would also eliminate the dedicated and experienced HUD staff that will now allocate and administer the critical CDBG-DR funds. Let’s hope that this one clear example of the administration’s shortsighted FY18 budget request stays top-of-mind when they begin putting together their budget request for FY19.”
“The recovery for the lowest income people, and repairing and rebuilding homes affordable to them, will take years. All of us at NLIHC are committed to working closely with our partners, members and allies in impacted states and throughout the country for as long as it takes to ensure the rebuilding is just, equitable and complete for all, including those with the lowest incomes.”
Diane makes the case for how critical CDBG-DR funding is for repairing or building homes.