Hurricane Florence Displaced Families Need a Safe, Accessible, and Affordable Place to Live While They Recover
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a recovery package of $1.68 billion in Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding to help with recovery efforts for Hurricane Florence. This money is intended to be a “down-payment,” with possible future funding once damage assessments are completed and available.
This funding – in addition to several other disaster provisions – was attached to the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018” (H.R. 4), needed to pass before the previous FAA authorization expires on October 1.
Given the tight timeframe, Congress also passed on Friday a short-term extension of the existing FAA authorization through October 7 to give the Senate more time to consider the full legislative package.
On behalf of the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – a group of over 800 organizations and individuals dedicated to equitable disaster housing recovery – the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) President and CEO Diane Yentel sent a letter to Congressional leadership expressing concerns about several disaster provisions included in and omitted from the FAA Re-authorization bill.
- Yentel’s letter urged Congress to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program to provide stable, affordable homes and wrap-around services to low income survivors as they get back on their feet, a program proven to be successful in previous disasters.
- The DHRC also expressed concerns regarding provisions that would authorize states to administer disaster housing assistance programs and divert funds from helping the lowest income people.
- The governor of Louisiana has already reopened a homeowner assistance program in anticipation of these changes.
Yentel makes the case that “One of the top priorities after a disaster is making sure htat all displaced families have a safe, accessible, and affordable place to live while they recover”
“The Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) was created after hard-won lessons from Hurricane Katrina and has been used successfully after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and Superstorm Sandy to meet the longer term housing needs of disaster survivors, including those with the lowest incomes who face the greatest barriers to recovery. After the 2017 disasters, however, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) refused to activate this proven housing solution. As a result, thousands of families lived in cramped FEMA hotels for nearly a year after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria made landfall.”