Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Todd Young (R-IN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in introducing bipartisan legislation to help communities plan for and recover from major disasters. The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act would strengthen the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s disaster recovery grants for states, local governments, and tribes. It would also improve coordination at the federal level by establishing an office within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would be devoted to disaster recovery and resilient communities.
“With natural disasters increasing in frequency and intensity, it is critical that states have the necessary resources to respond in order to protect public safety, property, and our economy,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan legislation would allow communities to immediately focus on helping families and local businesses recover instead of navigating the federal bureaucracy in the wake of a natural disaster.”
The bill addresses long-standing recommendations from the HUD Office of the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office to establish a permanent and predictable funding process. The bill accelerates assistance to disaster-impacted communities by:
· Creating a disaster recovery fund to allow HUD to predictably assist communities without waiting for Congress to act on each event;
· Authorizing HUD to issue regulations to codify program requirements and reduce unnecessary red tape, delays, and unpredictability that stems from the current Federal Register notice process;
· Supporting resilience as a part of – rather than separate from – disaster recovery;
· Authorizing “quick release” funds to support grantee capacity right after an event; and
· Reducing unnecessary administrative burdens and interagency requirement conflicts.