BPC developed a survey, in partnership with the Council of State Community Development Agencies, to inform the work of our Disaster Response Reform Task Force and better understand how HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program can better support communities as they recover from devastating and deadly disasters. The survey asked CDBG-DR program grantees, including state and local grant managers, to identify key benefits and difficulties associated with the program, as well as their priorities for reform.
Their responses below are particularly timely as the House of Representatives just recently passed CDBG-DR reform legislation—though on a party line vote—in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. It is unclear whether the Senate will keep the amendment language in the bill as it works to advance the NDAA. Yet there is significant, bipartisan interest in seeing the CDBG-DR program codified and improved. At the end of 2021, both House and Senate committee held hearings on legislation to permanently authorize CDBG-DR, including S. 2471, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act introduced by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Todd Young (R-IN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA).
Officials from Puerto Rico, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York City, and Alaska are just a few of the 36 CDBG-DR grantees that completed the survey—representing a diverse range of disaster-related needs. Overall, survey respondents expressed support for HUD’s role in federal disaster recovery efforts, particularly those focused on housing, but also expressed a distinct need for changes to expedite the recovery process.
- 94% of survey respondents said CDBG-DR funding was very or somewhat important to their state or community’s recovery. No respondents said it was not at all important.
- 69% of survey respondents said that housing has been the most important unmet need that CDBG-DR funding has addressed.
- 86% of survey respondents said it is very or somewhat important for HUD to have an active role in providing disaster assistance.
- 86% of survey respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that HUD is better suited than FEMA to provide medium- and long-term disaster housing assistance.
- 39% of survey respondents said that the most significant delays in the CDBG-DR grant process occur from when a disaster strikes to the initial congressional appropriation.
- “Permanent statutory authorization of the CDBG-DR program” had the strongest support of proposed reforms, with 97% responding that it was very or somewhat important.
- More standardized program forms and templates had the strongest support of proposed HUD reforms, with 94% responding that it was very or somewhat important (and 70% saying it is very important).
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