Representative Steve Israel (NY) is the lead sponsor of the Disaster Assistance Equity Act,H.R. 3863. This bill amends the Stafford Act to provide assistance for common interest communities, condominiums, and housing cooperatives damaged by a major disaster.
The Stafford Act is the governing authority for federal disaster response programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Act provides FEMA an expansive toolkit to support state and local government disaster mitigation, planning and response operations. It also establishes FEMA as a key partner for state and local governments in long-term disaster recovery, helping devastated areas rebuild stronger, safer and more resilient communities.
FEMA has failed to adapt its programs to the changing patterns of community development and consumer housing preference. Community association housing is one of the fastest growing forms of home ownership. Across the nation, close to 70 million people live in a condominium, housing cooperative or homeowners association. FEMA has failed community associations by inconsistently interpreting regulations that prohibit associations from qualifying for funding for federal disaster response and recovery programs. Community association homeowners pay the same federal taxes and are denied FEMA funding, while those not living in community associations eligible. This legislation is critical for creating fairness in the wake of a federally declared disaster.