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FEMA Takes Key Steps to Improve Disaster Assistance

In the aftermath of a major natural disaster, survivors may need assistance from FEMA, among other federal agencies, to secure housing and rebuild. However, onerous requirements and complicated application processes often make it harder for survivors to access that assistance. After a thorough review of its Individual Assistance (IA) program, FEMA recently proposed a package of major reforms designed to address these challenges, improve access, and better meet the needs of disaster survivors. The proposed changes, which are expected to go into effect for disasters declared in late March 2024, appear promising, targeting a handful of longstanding issues raised by survivors navigating disaster recoveries.

See a summary of the proposed changes below:

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After careful analysis of the Individual Assistance program and its major problems, based on the experience of survivors, FEMA’s proposed changes offer a positive path forward in making federal disaster assistance programs work better. Because our nation’s federal disaster response and recovery system involves numerous programs across agencies and levels of government, federal officials should follow FEMA’s lead to comprehensively review their disaster recovery programs. At the same, Congress should holistically review and advance the statutory changes necessary to simplify and improve the delivery of assistance to disaster-impacted communities and households.  

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