Recently, Congressman Salud Carbajal joined a bipartisan majority of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at making the federal disaster assistance process easier for families to navigate and more accessible.
The bipartisan Disaster Survivors Fairness Act, which Carbajal helped send to the House Floor in late May, would simplify the federal assistance process for communities impacted by natural disasters by creating a universal application for aid, creating a dashboard for families to monitor the status of their application, expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ability to fund mitigation projects that make disaster-damaged homes more resilient, and take other critical steps to help impacted communities.
“The early months of this year showed the Central Coast what a changing climate can do to our communities. If more extreme weather patterns are becoming the new normal, then we must ensure that the processes set up to help communities recover are working as efficiently as possible for affected communities,” said Rep. Carbajal. “In the wake of torrential rain and wind, flooding and debris flows, no family should feel that paperwork and federal bureaucracy are keeping them from getting the help they need. This bipartisan legislation will make sure FEMA and other federal entities are the helping hand in these dire circumstances that they are designed to be.”
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s passage of this bill comes just months after the Central Coast weathered repeated storms and flooding that triggered a major disaster declaration by President Joe Biden, which in turn has delivered millions of dollars in FEMA and Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance to Central Coast families, businesses, and local governments to supplement recovery efforts.
Carbajal pushed President Biden to approve this federal aid for all three counties that he represents on the Central Coast, and has used his office’s resources to extend resources on how to apply for aid to help cover the costs of home repairs, rent and temporary lodging, unemployment and child care expenses, and other incidentals related to the flood and storm damage.
The bipartisan Disaster Survivors Fairness Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA), includes a series of reforms to improve disaster assistance programs, including:
- Creating a universal application for federal disaster assistance and enabling federal agencies to share relevant disaster assistance information with each other;
- Giving FEMA new authorities that significantly expand the Agency’s ability to fund mitigation projects that make disaster damaged homes more resilient;
- Expanding the types of repairs FEMA may approve for disaster damaged homes and authorizes FEMA to provide direct repair assistance to homeowners;
- Authorizing FEMA to reimburse states that implement their own innovative post-disaster housing solutions;
- Requiring FEMA to develop new post-disaster solutions for renters and share them with Congress;
- Supporting efforts to shelter working emergency response personnel immediately following a disaster; and
- Requiring FEMA and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to complete a series of reports and studies that would identify additional challenges regarding the administration of post-disaster assistance for survivors and boost transparency.