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Nadler, Rouzer, Cunningham, Zeldin, Engel, and King Introduce Disaster Assistance Equity Act

Washington, December 6, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) introduced H.R. 5337, the Disaster Assistance Equity Act, along with Representatives David Rouzer (NC-7), Joe Cunningham (SC-1), Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Eliot Engel (NY-16), and Peter King (NY-2). This bipartisan legislation will ensure that common interest communities, including co-ops and condominiums, are eligible for the same FEMA assistance available to other homeowners.

The bill accomplishes this by making two key changes to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act:

  • Makes essential common elements of a common interest community (such as a roof, exterior wall, heating and cooling equipment, elevator, stairwell, utility access, plumbing, and electricity) eligible under FEMA’s Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program;
  • Makes common interest communities eligible under FEMA’s requirements for the removal of debris in the aftermath of a major disaster.

"Seven years ago, 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 in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "Since that time, common interest communities across the country have faced similar hardships. This is simply unacceptable. A natural disaster doesn't care what type of home you live in, and FEMA should treat all homeowners equally. I am proud to join Representatives Rouzer, Cunningham, Zeldin, Engel, and King in re-introducing this critical bill, which will ensure that every American can rebuild their home after a natural disaster."

"Folks in the Lowcountry know firsthand that hurricanes don’t discriminate between different types of communities," said Rep. Joe Cunningham.  "When disaster strikes, South Carolinians in planned communities deserve the same access to federal disaster assistances as everyone else. I’m proud to work with my colleagues across the aisle to right this wrong."

Congressman Lee Zeldin said, "Superstorm Sandy devastated New York’s coastal communities and businesses, and too many New Yorkers learned the hard way that FEMA was unable to treat all homeowners equally. Condos, co-ops, and homeowners associations don’t have the same access to federal disaster assistance as single family homeowners, which made it difficult for all Long Islanders to rebuild their homes and their lives. I’m proud to come together with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make the necessary reforms to ensure all Long Islanders are able to recover after a natural disaster."

"I’m proud to once again cosponsor this bipartisan bill which would fix a clear mistake in current federal law that adversely effects co-op and condo owners," said Congressman Eliot Engel. "We saw after Superstorm Sandy how vital it is for FEMA funds to be accessible to all homeowners, not just some or even most. These owners should not be treated as an afterthought by FEMA, especially in that difficult time after a natural disaster hits. My colleagues and I will work hard to ensure its swift passage."

"In the aftermath of any disaster, residents of condominiums and cooperatives should be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance just as other home owners are," said Congressman Peter King. "This legislation will correct that inequity." 

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