Culberson Amendment to Repeal FEMA Rental Assistance Rule Adopted
I recently passed an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill to repeal a FEMA rule that prevents Hurricane Harvey survivors from receiving continued rental assistance. After the amendment’s adoption by unanimous vote, I released the following statement:
Hurricane Harvey caused the largest housing disaster in the history of the United States. It’s almost a year later and many of my constituents are still living on the second floor of their homes, because the ground floor is not habitable. Others are struggling to pay for both a short-term rental and a mortgage on a flood-damaged home.
My amendment will compel FEMA to provide aid to all disaster victims who need continued rental assistance, regardless of income. It will help the thousands of Americans from Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and many other states that are still suffering from the terrible storms and wildfires last year.
I have personally spoken to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, and he agrees that FEMA’s 30 percent rule creates a perverse incentive and that it needs to be fixed. I appreciate my colleagues’ support of this bipartisan amendment so that we can help disaster survivors recover.
For full text of the amendment, click here.
The hearing can be viewed here.
Under current law, FEMA is required to provide disaster relief to families affected by natural disasters. However, FEMA is denying rental assistance to individuals whose post-disaster housing costs are 30 percent or less of their household income. FEMA’s 30 percent rule is deeming homeowners who desperately need rental assistance as “too wealthy” to qualify for housing assistance. Under this rule, FEMA says that if your pre-disaster housing costs and your post-disaster housing costs are equal to or less than 30 percent of your gross household income, you are ineligible for financial assistance for a temporary place to rent while your home is repaired.
I previously filed a bill, H.R. 4930, the Disaster Assistance Rental Fairness Act, to encourage FEMA to immediately waive the continued rental assistance rule.