Our nation is increasingly challenged by the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters with severe consequences for communities and their residents. As future events will likely continue with more serious and immense harm, federal aid plays an invaluable role in post-disaster rebuilding. Federal support includes immediate response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Small Business Administration (SBA). Engagement on long-term assistance is provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Resources directed through the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) respond to varying needs in housing, economic development, and public facilities. From its first allocation three decades ago to today, Congress has allocated $100 billion in federal assistance helping communities recover and withstand further destruction. States and localities have successfully targeted federal resources to long-term recovery needs. However, lingering issues exist which cause significant delays to assistance being delivered. Unfortunately, HUD is limited in making structural changes to address these problems. Instead, it is up to Congress to install reforms to CDBG-DR.
The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act (S. 1686) would authorize CDBG-DR and install related changes to help expedite funding to people and communities. Additionally, the legislation advances resources and capacity to support grantees which has proven to be a major impediment to distributing disaster assistance. Various stakeholders have urged Congress to codify the CDBG-DR program including the Government Accountability Office (GAO); the agency stressed the importance of authorization and related updates to CDBG-DR in its 2019 report. HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) has also recommended codification of the program.
For inquiries, please contact Josh Shumaker COSCDA Director of Advocacy and Federal Programs ([email protected]).