Harvey news week of 10/22

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in a public letter to Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long.

We urge you to enter an Interagency Agreement (IAA) with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD has a vital role in addressing the housing needs of disaster survivors. HUD has decades of experience providing housing opportunities to some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals families – including low income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and other at-risk populations who are often the hardest-hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover afterwards.

When disaster strikes, a major problem is displacement. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and families have been in temporary shelters. That is the case now in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and especially Puerto Rico, where an estimated 10,000 people are living in shelters. Through a network of existing programs, HUD may help victims to live in a safe, stable, and affordable home while they work to get back on their feet by providing rental assistance directly to survivors. For example, HUD may elect to use its existing network of local Public Housing Authorities (PHA) to administer tenant based rental assistance and provide case management services to impacted families. To achieve this, FEMA – your agency – must enter into an agreement for HUD to help carry out FEMA’s Individual Assistance programs.  FEMA and HUD have had IAA after other major recent disasters, like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. We urge you to enter into an agreement with HUD immediately so that thousands of families and individuals have access to stable, affordable rental homes after enduring a nightmarish ordeal of displacement from their home.