Federal Disaster Assistance a Disaster for Public Housing Residents

Date Published: 
November 6th, 2019
CLPHA supports bipartisan efforts to end politicized disbursement of disaster funds to Puerto Rico and public housing residents.
WASHINGTON (November 6, 2019) – Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, issued the following statement in support of bipartisan Congressional efforts to remedy the inconsistent delivery of disaster recovery funds for housing programs, and specifically to Puerto Rico.

“In the coming weeks, the House will consider bipartisan legislation to permanently authorize the disaster relief funding platform for housing programs. The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019 is rational, comprehensive, badly needed, and Congress should pass it. Its proposed standardization and codification would make it easier for public housing authorities (PHAs) to apply for, and receive, relief funds after being impacted by disasters the way our colleagues and their residents were in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, in Wilmington during Hurricane Florence, in San Buenaventura during the Camp Fire, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“Perhaps if the bill were law today, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development would have a harder time intentionally stalling the disaster relief funding process for Puerto Rico, which two senior HUD officials admitted to doing during a hearing last month, and Secretary Carson has not denied.

“This is unconscionable and a blatant disregard of a statutory deadline. Though Congress has allocated $20 billion in CDBG-DR funds to Puerto Rico, HUD has only disbursed $1.5 billion, while thousands of American citizens struggle to recover.

“To remedy this, Senate appropriators included strong language in the THUD spending bill to prevent HUD from implementing its financial transformation initiative until the Department takes the appropriate steps to make all disaster recovery funds available along with necessary administrative requirements, which would include remaining allocations to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Congress must take action to compel HUD to follow the law. We urge support for the House and Senate efforts to ensure that all Americans, regardless of income and geography, whose housing is impacted by natural disaster receive the support they need quickly and efficiently.”

About the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities
The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities is a national non-profit organization that works to preserve and improve public and affordable housing through advocacy, research, policy analysis and public education. CLPHA’s 70 members represent virtually every major metropolitan area in the country. Together they manage 40 percent of the nation’s public housing program; administer more than a quarter of the Housing Choice Voucher program; and operate a wide array of other housing programs. Learn more at clpha.org and on Twitter @CLPHA and follow @housing_is for news on CLPHA’s Housing Is Initiative to better intersect the housing field and other areas of critical importance such as health and education.


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