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Nadler, Rouzer, Garamendi, Zeldin, Wasserman Schultz, Mace, Ruiz, and Garbarino Introduce Disaster Assistance Equity Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) introduced the Disaster Assistance Equity Act of 2021, along with Representatives David Rouzer (NC-7), John Garamendi (CA-3), Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Nancy Mace (SC-1), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), and Andrew R. Garbarino (NY-2).

Under current law, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inconsistently interprets regulations in a way that prohibits homeowners’ associations from qualifying for federal disaster response and recovery programs. This bipartisan, common-sense legislation will ensure that housing cooperatives, condominiums, and other homeowners’ associations 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 homeowners’ association (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 homeowners’ associations eligible under FEMA’s requirements for the removal of debris in the aftermath of a major 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. "Some housing cooperatives in New York City were left without working utilities for months after the storm. Since that time, homeowners’ associations across the country have faced similar hardships. This inequity must be corrected. A natural disaster doesn't care what type of home you live in, and FEMA should treat all homeowners fairly when helping them rebuild. I am proud to join Representative’s Rouzer, Garamendi, Zeldin, Wasserman Schultz, Mace, Ruiz, and Garbarino in re-introducing this important bill, which will ensure that all Americans, regardless of the form of housing, have the right to benefit from the agency's response, recovery, and mitigation resources."

“North Carolinians know too well that natural disasters do not discriminate among neighborhoods or housing.  Yet under FEMA’s current eligibility rules, condos, co-ops, and homeowners’ associations don’t have the same access to FEMA Individual Assistance as single-family homeowners.  I’m proud to re-introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure all citizens and communities affected by disasters can receive the same access to federal disaster assistance other homeowners receive,” said Representative Rouzer.

“Californians are far too familiar with the impacts that natural disasters can inflict on a community. The federal government should do everything in its power to support every American impacted by natural disasters. Sadly, that’s not the case for the millions of Americans who live in common interest communities. Disasters won’t discriminate against the communities they impact, and the federal government shouldn’t when it distributes aid. I’m a proud co-sponsor of Congressman Nadler’s ‘Disaster Assistance Equity Act’ because it will right this wrong and ensure common interest communities are entitled to the same FEMA assistance as other homeowners,” said Representative Garamendi.

“Nearly 10 years ago, Superstorm Sandy devastated New York’s coastal communities and businesses, and so many New Yorkers learned the hard way that FEMA was unable to help everyone it should have. We are seeing this issue arise again as the remnants of Hurricane Ida have caused flooding and severe damage to homes and property in New York. Condos, co-ops, and homeowner’s associations don’t have the same access to federal disaster assistance as single-family homeowners, which makes it difficult for many New Yorkers to rebuild their homes and lives. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make necessary reforms to ensure all New Yorkers are able to recover post-natural disaster,” said Representative Zeldin.

My home state sits in Hurricane Alley, and it is essential that FEMA treats all homeowners there and across the nation equally when it comes to restoring communities and picking up the pieces from the aftermath of an extreme storm,” said Representative Wasserman Schultz. “The coasts and all of Florida abounds with common interest communities, and anyone living in a condominium must have access to the same assistance that other homeowners are eligible to receive.”

“As a lifelong Lowcountry resident, I know hurricanes, tropical storms, and natural disasters do not discriminate,” said Representative Nancy Mace. “No matter the community or background, FEMA should respond equally with federal disaster assistance to all communities impacted. This is a great example of real bipartisan cooperation on common-sense legislation to ensure equitable disaster response for our communities in the Lowcountry and beyond.”

“Long Islanders know all too well the devastation natural disasters can leave in their wake. Residents of condominiums and cooperatives should not be denied FEMA assistance simply because they do not live in a single-family home. This legislation will ensure FEMA Individual Assistance is available to everyone who is impacted by a disaster, regardless of homeownership status,” said Representative Garbarino.

Support for the Proposal:

“The National Association of Housing Coo¬peratives (NAHC) thanks Congress Member Nadler for introducing this important legislation. The recent storms have accentuated the urgent need for housing cooperatives to qualify for FEMA disaster recovery grants to bring their buildings and campuses back after the devastation of a storm, a flood, or other natural disasters. We appreciate Mr. Nadler’s many years of working on this vital issue,” said Gregory J. Carlson, NAHC President.

“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.”

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