Espaillat leads efforts to remove barriers to federal disaster relief following Hurricane Ida

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By SÍLE MOLONEY

The Major Deegan Highway is flooded on Thursday, September 2, 2021 due to Tropical Storm Ida.
Photo by Miriam Quinoñes

Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), who represents parts of the northwestern Bronx and upper Manhattan, and Grace Meng (NY-6) who represents parts of Queens, announced that they were leading a effort to remove barriers to federal disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Espaillat and Meng took the lead by writing a letter, calling on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Congressional Committee on Transportation and infrastructure, to include the Espaillat bill, HR 3037 – Major Disaster Survivors’ Housing Act of 2021 in additional emergency funding for upcoming disasters.

Espaillat said the consequences of Hurricane Ida were significant, especially, he said, as the country mourns the tragic loss of 82 Americans in eight states. “As we prepare to see more natural disasters triggered by the climate crisis, it is imperative that the aid we offer is inclusive and accessible,” he said, adding that the inclusion of his draft law in the financing plan would clarify and modernize federal housing assistance from FEMA. and protect safe, stable and affordable homes for thousands of American citizens across the country.

The congressman concluded: “Modernizing our disaster relief programs means that once and for all, low-income disaster survivors will have access to crucial assistance without being stuck in bureaucratic limbo. will change their lives as families rebuild and move on. Track.”

(lr) New York City Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris joins Congressman Adriano Espaillat as he buys a new African mask from store owner Cheick Conde in Kingsbridge on Saturday, November 28 2020.
Photo by David Greene

Meanwhile, Meng said Ida’s remains wreaked havoc on his congressional district. “So many voters and other New Yorkers in our area continue to need help after the devastation they were forced to endure,” Meng said, adding that the federal government must be there for them. and for all those who have been affected by natural disasters.

“The process of seeking help should be as straightforward as possible, and modernizing FEMA’s federal disaster housing assistance programs would be a critical part of ensuring that happens,” the MP added. “I am proud to join with Congressman Espaillat in calling for the removal of the obstacles blocking needed assistance.”

Recently, FEMA amended its Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guide (IAPPG) to allow several forms of documentation to prove ownership. Meng and Espaillat said The Housing Act for Survivors of Major Disasters would have codify and expand this new FEMA policy, enabling survivors of past disasters to retroactively receive much needed assistance.

Other signatories to the letter include Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).

Congressman Jerry Nadler (NY-10) at an event at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan on September 14, 2021.
Photo by Síle Moloney

A copy of the letter can be viewed here, and can be read in full below.

“Dear President Pelosi, Leader Schumer and President DeFazio:

We are writing to express our support for the additional emergency disaster funding due to the ramifications of Hurricane Ida and respectfully request that such legislation remove barriers to federal disaster relief caused by documentation issues in the title. We recommend doing this by including the language put forward in HR 3037 – the Major Disaster Survivors Housing Act of 2021, which was recently passed by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with bipartisan support.

The consequences of Ida are far-reaching, especially as we mourn the tragic loss of 82 Americans in eight states – a death toll we fear continues to rise. In the aftermath of the natural disaster, New York, Louisiana, New Jersey and Texas deployed substantial resources for critical infrastructure repairs such as restoring electricity, reopening roads, and reclaiming public transportation. . As the country continues to assess the economic damage from the storm, it is estimated that Ida’s total cost could reach $ 95 billion or more.

In identifying this significant impact, compounded by a decade of unprecedented natural disasters and a global pandemic, we must also recognize the obstacles families face as they attempt to rebuild their lives and receive the help they desperately need. . Our constituents have told us that being denied FEMA disaster assistance due to title documentation issues has left them stranded in difficult times searching for safe, stable and affordable housing. In the rural south alone, FEMA rejected up to a quarter of applicants because they cannot document ownership and in Puerto Rico, approximately 77,000 households were denied assistance in the wake of the devastating hurricane Maria for the same problem. As we strive to build back better, it is essential that we modernize our disaster relief programs to ensure that every family gets the help they need.

Recently, FEMA modified its Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guide (IAPPG) to allow several forms of documentation to prove ownership. HR 3037 would codify and extend this timely FEMA policy that allows disaster survivors to use a “declaration” form attesting to their ownership of the property or by submitting utility bills, credit card statements , pay stubs and school enrollment. FEMA’s policy applies retroactively to August 23, although HR 3037 extends this period to 2017. These changes ensure that low-income disaster survivors can access the help they need without being forced to undergo a long and complicated title clearing process. or otherwise go unaided.

As we prepare to see more natural disasters triggered by the climate crisis, it is imperative that the aid we provide is inclusive and accessible. HR 3037 – The Major Disaster Survivor Housing Act of 2021 is common sense legislation that modernizes our disaster relief programs and will improve the immediate health and safety of thousands of U.S. citizens across the country. It will allow the federal government to continue to serve low-income people and communities of color who face unimaginable situations after natural disasters. Thank you for your attention to this question. We look forward to working together to address this crisis. “


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