Disaster Equity Assistance Act Introduced in the U.S. House

Senior Partner Charlie Perkins is interested in sharing this press release from the Community Associations Institute regarding the current disaster assistance bill in the House of Representatives:

Bipartisan Legislation Expands Access to FEMA Disaster Assistance to Community Associations Falls Church, VA, Sept. 21, 2021—Today, Community Associations Institute (CAI) applauds Representative David Rouzer (R-NC) for co-sponsoring the Disaster Assistance Equity Act (H.R. 5298) with Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); a show of bipartisanship that is rarely seen in today’s politics. John Garamendi (D-CA), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Paul Ruiz (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) are additional cosponsors on the bill.

Currently, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inconsistently interprets regulations in a way that prohibits community associations, commonly referred to as condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives from qualifying for federal disaster response and recovery programs. The Disaster Assistance Equity Act will allow FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to reimburse costs related to disaster debris removal from community association roads and waterways and allow FEMA’s Individuals and Households Assistance Program to provide assistance to condominium unit homeowners for critical common element repairs after a natural disaster.

“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of New Yorkers and other Americans were shocked to learn that FEMA’s eligibility rules left them with no way of restoring their homes simply because they shared walls and floors with neighbors and lived in a homeowners’ association,” said Representative Nadler. The bipartisan support is indicative of how this issue impacts so many Americans that have dealt with a natural disaster. In a Congressional briefing, CAI’s chair of the Government and Public Affairs committee Peter Kristian, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, general manager of Hilton Head Plantation in South Carolina explained that bill is not only for coastal communities hit by hurricanes, but also interior states that experience mudslides, fires, and tornados. He remarked that “Everyone across the entire United States can potentially be affected by one of these types of natural disasters.”

“As severe summer storms, wildfires, and hurricanes plague the lives of Americans across the country, the devastation highlights the inequities of the federal disaster recovery system for the 74 million people living in condominiums, homeowners’ associations, and housing cooperatives,” said Thomas M. Skiba, CAE, Community Association’s Institute’s (CAI) chief executive officer. “After a disaster, these communities deserve federal support. We applaud Chairman Nadler and the bipartisan sponsors of this important legislation.”