Hawai'i State News

Federal disaster recovery reform bill introduced by senators Schatz, Collins

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The start of fissure 3 during Kīlauea’s 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption. Lava erupting to the surface cut across Kaupili Street at about 7 a.m. May 4, 2018. (U.S. Geological Survey)

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have joined 11 other colleagues in reintroducing legislation to help communities recover from major disasters.

The Reforming Disaster Recovery Act would strengthen the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s disaster recovery program for states, local governments and tribes.

“Right now, communities in crisis are forced to wait for Congress to pass a disaster funding bill before HUD can help. This bill changes the law so they no longer have to wait. As soon as a disaster strikes, communities can begin the process of recovery,” said Schatz, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.


The bill addresses long-standing recommendations from the HUD Office of the Inspector General and Government Accountability Office to establish a permanent and predictable funding process. The bill accelerates assistance to disaster-impacted communities by:

  • Creating a disaster recovery fund to allow HUD to predictably assist communities
  • Authorizing HUD to issue regulations to codify program requirements and reduce unnecessary red tape, delays, and unpredictability that stems from the current process
  • Supporting resilience as a part of – rather than separate from – disaster recovery
  • Authorizing “quick release” funds to support grantee capacity right after an event
  • Improving federal coordination by establishing an office at HUD devoted to disaster recovery and resilience
  • Reducing unnecessary administrative burdens and interagency requirement conflicts

The Schatz-Collins bill is supported by more than 40 organizations including BPC Action, Council of State Community Development Agencies, Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Community Development Association, and National Low Income Housing Coalition.


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