Community Associations Institute (CAI) has gotten some valuable help from two New York Congressmen in the organization’s continuing efforts to make homeowners living in associations eligible for disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Residents in non-association communities are eligible for such relief.
CAI provides a wealth of information on FEMA-related issues.
In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, Rep. Steve Israel and Rep. Jerry Nadler took key leadership roles in pressing Congress and FEMA to treat homeowners living in community associations fairly when determining eligibility for disaster relief.
In April, Israel and Nadler successfully amended H.R. 1471, the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015, to help community associations access federal disaster benefits. The amendment, spearheaded by Nadler during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting on H.R. 1471, directs FEMA to (1) provide technical assistance to homeowners associations on how to access federal debris removal assistance and (2) develop policy solutions so homeowners in condominiums and cooperatives are able to use assistance to repair storm damage to common areas.
"Representatives Israel and Nadler clearly place the needs of their constituents needs first," says Dawn Bauman, CAE, CAI’s senior vice president of government and public affairs. "It's due to their determination and tireless efforts that progress is being made to ensure all community association homeowners have access to federal disaster benefits. Our 33,000 members appreciate and applaud their efforts. We will continue to work alongside them, meeting with congressional leaders, providing key information to policymakers and enlisting support for H.R. 1471."
Bauman notes that community associations often face alone the daunting task of cleaning up and rebuilding after a major natural disaster. She says FEMA routinely denies association requests to remove debris that choke roads and canals in communities hit by a disaster.
"It’s pretty simple—and unfair,” Bauman adds. "Residents in condominiums and cooperatives are subject to arbitrary FEMA restrictions on the use of federal home repair assistance."
Nadler spoke passionately about the importance of disaster assistance and relief being extended to community associations during a recent Congressional committee meeting. He explained that the amendment serves ". . . to address long-standing ambiguities and eligibility for FEMA assistance, specifically for housing cooperatives, condominium associations and community associations."
Nadler and others have pointed out that Stafford Act does not include a definition of condominium or cooperative, an ambiguity that has created significant confusion about the eligibility for assistance and has made it nearly impossible for residents of condominium and cooperatives to make their buildings habitable after a major natural disaster.
Added Nadler, "The amendment contains language directing FEMA to provide community associations’ technical assistance on how they may be eligible to receive reimbursement from FEMA or another grantee . . . in the aftermath of disasters. FEMA should provide these associations with best practices and support to ensure they are able to rebuild and continue providing basic services after a disaster."
See CAI’s extensive white paper on federal disaster relief.
With more than 33,000 members dedicated to building better communities, CAI works in partnership with 60 chapters to provide information, education and resources to community associations and the professionals who support them. CAI's mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in communities that are preferred places to call home. Visit www.caionline.org or call (888) 224-4321.
MEDIA CONTACT: Blaine TobinPhone: 703-970-9235