Arlington, VA (PRWEB) December 19, 2012
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (National VOAD) calls for elected and appointed officials to cooperate and act now, not later, to address the urgent recovery needs of communities and households impacted by Super Storm Sandy.
Super Storm Sandy struck the East Coast on October 29, 2012. The storm caused tens of billions of dollars in damage along the coast. As damage estimates were released to the public in the weeks after the storm, calls for supplemental appropriations to help pay for recovery efforts were met with calls for offsets from some quarters.
“National VOAD calls on Congress to act quickly” Daniel Stoecker, Executive Director said. “Without prompt action current dire conditions will continue to deteriorate and new problems will emerge, which will then require even more resources to stabilize and restore lives.”
National VOAD is the national coordinating body for 53 of the nations most respected community-based and faith-based disaster response organizations, and 55 state and territorial affiliates with hundreds of additional localized member organizations. National VOAD members focus on all stages of disaster: preparedness, relief, response, recovery and mitigation. Working collaboratively with the private and governmental sectors, the members of National VOAD are the driving force behind disaster recovery in the United States.
Below are the minimal requirements National VOAD feels necessary to address urgent recovery needs currently exceeds available resources:
Disaster Supplemental Funding
Disaster supplemental funding plays a key role in meeting the disaster related unmet needs of disaster survivors. While program authorized under the Stafford Act, such as FEMA’s Individuals Assistance and Small Business Administration play important parts in disaster response and recovery, time and time again these program have proven insufficient to bring communities back to their pre-disaster state, leaving thousands of households vulnerable to socio-economic despair. These “unmet needs” often fall on the shoulders on voluntary, faith-based and community-based organizations, who diligently attempt to use donated dollars to fill the gap. The magnitude of Super Storm Sandy’s estimated $71 billion in damages within NY and NJ will require large block grants such as Social Service Block Grants and Community Development Block Grants in order to meet the humanitarian needs within impacted communities.
Recommendation: Congressional approval of disaster supplemental funding.
Additional National VOAD recommendations for Congressional action:
FEMA Disaster Assistance
Many Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs vital to recovery have been restricted or no longer exist. These programs provided aid for emergency and temporary housing, repair costs, furniture, funeral, medical, dental needs, and eviction and foreclosure prevention. National VOAD advocates for legislative reform that fully restores these programs, include:
Rental Assistance Previously available for up to 18 months, assistance for alternative rental after a home is damaged is also subject to an overall $31,900 cash cap on all combined FEMA assistance. This is especially punitive for large families, those who live in high rent areas and those who may have needed funeral or other assistance, because rental assistance stops when the cash cap is reached. Some families will receive assistance for repairs, leaving little aid to cover the costs of temporary housing. Larger families with more costly temporary housing needs will use up their allocated funds before their homes are ready for re-habitation, and be forced to use their repair money for temporary rent. This is especially problematic in high-rent areas such as Manhattan. This need is too massive to be handled by voluntary or local government agencies.
Recommendation: Restore 18-month maximum at Fair Market Rate, not subject to cash cap.
Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Called “Mortgage and Rental Assistance (MRA),” this was the most important FEMA relief program in New York City following 9/11. Some 16,500 households, who lost jobs and were facing eviction or foreclosure as a result of the attack, had their rents and mortgages paid by FEMA for up to 18 months, at a total cost of $200 million. This program passed out of the law in November 2002. Since then, this important safety net has been tragically unavailable, most egregiously in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with emerging similar troubles in New Jersey and New York. In both New Jersey and New York, there are no voluntary, state or local government funds to prevent disaster-caused eviction and foreclosure.
Recommendation: Restore the Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program.
FEMA Qualifying Immigrant Status
Immigrants are among the most vulnerable to disaster and are often denied other forms of public assistance. In recent years, FEMA assistance has become more restricted based on immigration status. Access to humanitarian disaster services is a fundamental human right, articulated in the standards of the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons; Principles 3 and 4: “National authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction. Internally displaced persons have the right to request and to receive protection and humanitarian assistance from these authorities.”
Recommendation: Extend basic emergency FEMA disaster relief, temporary housing, health and other humanitarian aid to all in need without regard to legal immigration status.
To schedule an interview with National VOAD or any of the partnering VOAD agencies regarding their roles in disasters, contact James McGowan, Associate Executive Director of Partnerships, 703-778-5089.
National VOAD, or National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, is a national coordinating body for 53 of the nations most respected community-based and faith-based disaster response organizations and 55 state and territorial affiliates, with hundreds of additional localized member organizations. National VOAD members focus on all stages of disaster: preparedness, relief, response, recovery and mitigation. Working collaboratively with the private and governmental sectors, the members of National VOAD are the driving force behind disaster recovery in the United States.