WASHINGTON, D.C. – US Representatives Garret Graves and Dina Titus introduced legislation – The Disaster Survivors Fairness Act of 2022 – that would streamline the assistance process and expedite short- and long-term housing solutions for disaster-affected residents, police, and emergency responders.
In the aftermath of a hurricane or other disaster, each federal agency and program have separate applications. Currently, the bureaucratic process requires multiple forms to apply for assistance and the post-disaster housing solutions are not tailored to specific needs. Often, the process involves four or more federal agencies. Under the bill, taxpayer dollars would be saved, and disaster victims would have improved access to help.
“We need a disaster recovery system that looks like it was designed on purpose. The current process involves at least four federal agencies and at least five headaches. This legislation solves these inefficiencies and more. After a hurricane makes landfall, disaster victims are left to deal with an alphabet soup of federal agencies and each one has their own confusing requirements. Our bill helps to cut through the red tape and recognize that government bureaucracy is the last thing disaster victims need to deal with. Folks need to be spending less time filling out forms and more time focusing on their actual recovery,” Graves said. “After a disaster, it is often a disjointed process helping people find housing options. We have individuals or families who lost their houses. There are even law enforcement officers who are still serving their community despite damage to their own homes or property. They need a viable housing option for their families. The legislation would create a one-stop-shop for states to run the housing programs and tailor needs to the communities specific to the disaster. Why do we let someone in a cubicle in Washington, DC decide on housing solutions when they aren’t on the ground, or they don’t understand the communities? This legislation also makes clear that our parish, sheriff, police, firefighters and others can take their own initiative to provide emergency housing solutions for law enforcement officers and emergency responders and get reimbursed by FEMA later.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to work with the Chair of the disaster subcommittee, Congresswoman Dina Titus, on this important legislation. She was great to work with,” Graves continued.
More specifics about the bill:
- Develop to simple application for federal disaster assistance for individuals in areas impacted by emergencies or major disasters.
- Remove the requirement that households must be rendered uninhabitable by a major disaster to be eligible for hazard mitigation assistance.
- Authorize the President to provide direct assistance to individuals and households if applicants are unable to make use of financial assistance for repairs and when there is a lack of available resources for the repair of owner-occupied residences.
- The FEMA Administrator is able to delegate immediate short-term housing solutions to local leaders until the issue of final regulations. This gives States more flexibility to pursue housing solutions that work best for their residents and cut unnecessary red tape.
- Ensures police, firefighters and other first responders have emergency housing available so they can focus on disaster response and recovery.