South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Beaufort, has introduced legislation which attempts to localize disaster assistance by allowing homeowners associations, condominiums and retirement communities to apply for emergency aid after a storm.
The Disaster Assistance Equity Act (H.R. 3238) would make “common interest communities” (such as condos, housing cooperatives or retirement communities) eligible for the same Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance available to traditional homeowners following a disaster.
It would also allow homeowners associations be eligible for the same Public Assistance Program grants that state and local governments can receive after a disaster. The grant money can be used for debris clearance and common infrastructure repair.
“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,” Sanford said in a release. “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.”
The bill has bipartisan support, although Sanford is the only Southern member of Congress to sign onto the measure so far. Other co-sponsors are U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, Eliot Engel, D-NY, Peter King, R-NY and Lee Zeldin, R-NY.