U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced legislation to help communities recover from major disasters. The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act would strengthen the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) disaster recovery program for states, local governments, and tribes.

“Our legislation would streamline, reform, and inject greater fiscal responsibility into the broken CDBG Disaster Recovery Program,” said Senator Young. “It is past time that we permanently codify the program to avoid funding lags and rid duplicative requirements in the wake of a disaster.”

The bill addresses long-standing recommendations from the HUD Office of the Inspector General and Government Accountability Office to establish a permanent and predictable funding process.

More specifically, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act would accelerate assistance to disaster-impacted communities by:

  • Creating a disaster recovery fund to allow HUD to predictably assist communities;
  • Authorizing HUD to issue regulations to codify program requirements and reduce unnecessary red tape, delays, and unpredictability that stems from the current process;
  • Supporting resilience as a part of – rather than separate from – disaster recovery;
  • Authorizing “quick release” funds to support grantee capacity right after an event;
  • Improving federal coordination by establishing an office at HUD devoted to disaster recovery and resilience; and
  • Reducing unnecessary administrative burdens and interagency requirement conflicts.

In addition to Senator Young, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) also cosponsored this legislation.

This bill is also supported by more than 40 organizations including BPC Action, Council of State Community Development Agencies, Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Community Development Association, and National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“BPC Action commends Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jon Tester (D-MT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Todd Young (R-IN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Alex Padilla (D-CA) for their leadership in reintroducing the bipartisan Reforming Disaster Recovery Act. This much-needed legislation would permanently authorize HUD’s CDBG-DR program, helping HUD and disaster-impacted communities address unmet recovery needs more quickly and impactfully. This bill aligns with the goals of BPC’s task force on disaster response reform, formed in 2020, and advances a key priority of our Adaptation Working Group. With seven catastrophic disasters expected to cost over $1 billion and 30 FEMA major disaster declarations issued in just the first five months of 2023, Congress should not miss the opportunity to put such a critical source of disaster assistance on more permanent footing. BPC Action looks forward to working with the 118th Congress to enact this bill,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director of BPC Action.

“The Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) applauds reintroduction of the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act. As communities continue to experience major natural disasters, federal help is essential for rebuilding efforts and to mitigate against future events. The Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program (CDBG-DR) facilitates this critical assistance for long-term recovery,” said Dianne Taylor, Executive Director of COSCDA. “While CDBG-DR provides meaningful investments towards housing, infrastructure and related needs, the program experiences significant challenges including timeliness in assisting disaster victims. Program codification and related reforms are essential for improved performance and outcomes. The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act would streamline regulations, strengthen capacity and technical assistance, and enhance data availability among other key priorities. COSCDA supports these updates to accommodate more expedient and effective resources to populations in need.”

Full legislative text can be found here.