Engel, Sanford, Nadler, Zeldin, King Introduce Disaster Assistance Equity Act

Jul 17, 2017

Washington D.C.—Congressman Eliot L. Engel joined Congress Members Sanford, Nadler, Zeldin, and King in introducing H.R. 3238, the Disaster Assistance Equity Act, a bipartisan bill which would make common interest communities, including co-ops and condominiums, eligible for the same FEMA assistance available to other homeowners.

This bill would make two changes to the Stafford Act:

• Make homeowners associations eligible for the Public Assistance Program for debris clearance and repair of common infrastructure; and
• Enable condominium associations and housing cooperatives to be eligible for the Individual Assistance Program.

“This bipartisan bill fixes an obvious flaw in current federal law as it pertains to disaster assistance for co-op and condo owners,” Congressman Engel said. “We saw after Superstorm Sandy how vital it is for FEMA funds to be accessible to all homeowners, not just some or even most. Co-op and condo owners should not be treated like second class citizens by FEMA, especially in those difficult times after a natural disaster hits. I am proud to reintroduce this bill with my colleagues Rep. Sanford, Rep. Nadler, Rep. Zeldin, and Rep. King and will work hard to ensure its swift passage.”

“I find it strange that FEMA treats the 70 million Americans who live in common interest communities differently than it does those who live in other types of communities,” said Congressman Sanford. “In my experience, storms don’t discriminate between different kinds of communities. As such, it seems to me that FEMA should treat them all equally when it comes to the assistance available in the wake of a disaster. I want to thank my colleagues for signing on as original co-sponsors of the bill, and we will be working in the weeks ahead to build support.”

“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of New Yorkers were shocked to learn they could not restore their condos and co-ops to livable condition because their common areas were not eligible for assistance,” said Congressman Nadler. “Millions more Americans have come to the same startling realization after natural disasters in the five years since Sandy. A storm doesn’t care what type of home you live in before destroying it, and FEMA should treat all homeowners fairly when helping them rebuild. I am proud to join Representatives Sanford, Engel, Zeldin, and King in re-introducing this critical bill, which builds on my ongoing efforts to ensure that every American can rebuild their home and their lives in the aftermath of natural disasters.”

Congressman Zeldin said, “Superstorm Sandy devastated our coastal communities and businesses in New York. Unfortunately, many New Yorkers learned the hard way that FEMA does not treat all homeowners equally. Condos, co-ops, and homeowners associations did not have the same access to federal disaster assistance as single family homeowners, which made it difficult to restore their homes and communities. Joining with Congressmen Sanford, King, Nadler, and Engel, the Disaster Assistance Equity Act would make important reforms to ensure that all homeowners are able to recover after a natural disaster.”

“As we saw in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, residents of condominiums and cooperatives should be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance just as other home owners are,” said Congressman King. “This legislation will correct that inequity.”

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Please note this statement was originally published on July 17, 2017 by Congressman Engel’s House of Representative’s office and posted to this website no sooner than 72 hours after initial publication.