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Harvey’s Aftermath: Lawmakers Push for Hurricane Relief for Homeowners

hurricane vortexU.S. Representatives are pushing for the allocation of promised disaster relief aid Texas and other disaster-affected states. U.S. Reps. Randy Weber and Lizzie Fletcher, introduced the Bipartisan Disaster Recovery Funding Act last week, with support from 13 other co-sponsors from Texas, mostly from the Houston area, as well as supporters from other communities waiting on the funding, including Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida and Puerto Rico.

The Act directs federal agencies to release the $16 billion in disaster funds Congress approved in early 2018 following Hurricane Harvey to different states and territories—including more than $4 billion to Texas—within 60 days.

“After Harvey hit, I fought alongside the Texas delegation to secure additional funds for Harvey survivors,” U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul. “Unfortunately, the agencies tasked with distributing these funds did not respond with the same urgency.”

According to the Texas Tribune, Texas has already received billions of dollars for Harvey recovery, but each bucket of money is designated for a specific purpose. The $4.3 billion that Congress approved for Texas last February is part of a HUD grant program designed "to help cities, counties, and States recover from Presidentially declared disasters, especially in low-income areas."

Hurricanes and Homeownership

According to a report from the Urban institute, natural disasters leave a negative impact on homeownership long afterward. Urban notes is that the negative effects of disasters persist, or even grow over time, for important financial outcomes. Urban’s report calls for lenders and government sponsored enterprises to update existing mortgage delinquency and foreclosure policies to account for these long-term financial burdens following disasters.

As part of a plan to further address affordable housing issues, and possibly address some of the issues put forth by the Urban Institute, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters included a plan for pre-disaster mitigation funds in a bill introduced on Tuesday. Part of the bill contains $5 billion to support mitigation efforts that can protect communities from future disasters and reduce post-disaster federal spending.

The additional funds may act as insurance for homeowners affected by natural disasters. According to data from Colorado State University, there is a 48% chance of coastal areas being hit by hurricanes making landfall this year, just slightly down from the century-long average of 52%. Homeowners without proper insurance in these areas are at high risk for default or foreclosure.

Learn more about how to prepare for natural disasters at the 2019 inaugural Five Star Disaster Preparedness Symposium, July 31 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The Symposium provides an opportunity for national leaders and executives to engage in critical conversations on diligence and preparedness, so the next time a natural disaster strikes, the industry will be ready to lend the proper support. Register for the Symposium here.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a contributing writer for DS News. He is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing, and has studied abroad in Athens, Greece. An East Texas native, he also works part-time as a photographer.
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