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Congress takes steps toward disaster relief equality

Colleen Willard, Esq. - 4/4/2017

 

Last year, communities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina were hit hard by Hurricane Matthew and faced overwhelming recovery efforts from the damage.  In fact, a community association in South Carolina reported moving 480,000 cubic yards of debris from the community.  The total cost for pick up and disposal of the debris amounted to $18 million-- this figure does not even touch the cost of clearing the streets and restoration.  $18 million is a tremendous burden to bear simply because these homeowners live in an association. 

Last week on Capitol Hill Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) introduced the Disaster Assistance Support for Communities and Homeowners Act of 2017, H.R. 1684. This bill directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance to condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives regarding the process to become eligible for disaster assistance.  Certainly, a step in the right direction for granting community associations equal access to disaster programs!  Another bill that will impact community associations is the Disaster Assistance Equity Act which is slated to be introduced later this year and is discussed in further detail below.

Former Congressman Steve Israel (NY-3) first introduced the Disaster Assistance Equity Act in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy's ravaging effects on his district revealed to him the glaring discrepancies and inequity in FEMA's policy.  FEMA classifies community associations as businesses, making associations ineligible for federal recovery assistance. The Disaster Assistance Equity Act specifically qualifies community associations for assistance and relief services when impacted by a major disaster. 

FEMA's classification of community associations as businesses is particularly unfair because like other homeowners, community association residents protect their homes by purchasing insurance and support disaster response and recovery assistance through local, state and federal taxes, yet are continually denied help. 

Thankfully, Congressman Nadler and Congressman Mark Sanford (SC-1) are continuing the fight for community associations and their residents by sponsoring the Disaster Assistance Equity Act.  They are currently in the process of gathering original cosponsors.  Click here to email your representative and ask that they contact Congressman Nadler or Congressman Sandford to become an original cosponsor of the bill.  We especially need you to act if you are represented by Congressman A. Drew Ferguson (GA-3), Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18), or Congressman Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) as they are new members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

CAI's Government and Public Affairs Team looks forward to providing key information to policymakers and encouraging support for this important piece of legislation so that homeowners can receive the vital assistance that they need. 

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