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New Report Details Reforms Needed for More Equitable Disaster Housing Recovery for Low-Income Communities

The National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Fair Share Housing Center of New Jersey call on Congress to implement a new system of disaster housing recovery that addresses the needs of low-income and marginalized people and communities.

Washington, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) released “Fixing America’s Broken Disaster Housing Recovery System, Part Two: Policy Framework Reform Recommendations,” a comprehensive set of reforms needed to ensure disaster recovery assistance reaches low-income and marginalized households and communities, which are currently neglected. 

The report is released during a time when the country is battling a pandemic, fighting unprecedented wildfires in the West, and at the peak of one of the most active and severe hurricane seasons in recent history. Congress must act immediately to provide essential housing resources and provisions needed for low-income and marginalized people to remain stably housed during and after the pandemic and to enact critical reforms to the federal disaster housing recovery system to ensure it responds to those most in need. Each of these disasters, and our country’s response to them, again underscore the urgent need for reforming our disaster housing recovery system.

The recommendations in the report were compiled with significant contributions from members of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) during a 2019 Houston policy convening. The recommendations address the four stages of planning/preparedness, immediate response, long-term recovery, and mitigation, and they range in scope from regulatory fixes of existing programs to the creation of new methods and priorities of assistance. The recommendations are informed by the collective experiences of residents and advocates in California, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and other states impacted by recent natural disasters.

The current disaster housing recovery system exacerbates and reinforces racial, income, and accessibility inequities at each stage of response and recovery. When disasters strike, the lowest-income survivors are often the hardest hit and have the fewest resources with which to recover. Current federal efforts frequently leave these survivors without the assistance needed to get back on their feet and leave them less prepared to weather future disasters. The coronavirus pandemic has shown in stark relief racial and income inequities in the disaster housing recovery system and the disproportionate challenges low-income communities and people of color face. The pandemic and the federal and state responses to it have demonstrated the need to incorporate the immediate and long-term policy reforms included in this report into our nation’s response to all disasters, from hurricanes and wildfires to pandemics.

Part one of the report, released earlier this year, identified the barriers to recovery at each of the four stages of disaster preparedness, response and housing recovery: (1) emergency planning and response, (2) post-disaster housing needs, (3) long-term recovery, and (4) mitigation and resiliency. This part-two report lays out in detail the new policy and program reforms needed to center the housing, economic, and health needs of the lowest-income most marginalized disaster survivors and their communities.

“America’s disaster housing recovery system is fundamentally broken. It consistently exacerbates the housing crisis, solidifies segregation, and deepens inequality,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “We must develop a new system that centers the needs of the lowest-income and most marginalized people: people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness and others. Only then can we achieve equitable, just and complete recoveries from disasters.”

Read part two of the report at:

Read part one: “Barriers to a Complete and Equitable Recovery” at:


About the DHRC: A coalition of more than 850 national, state, and local organizations, including many working directly with disaster-impacted communities and with first-hand experience recovering after disasters.