From: The Honorable Derek Kilmer
Sent By: Aaron.Wasserman@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 4243
Cosponsors: Kilmer, Riechert, Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers
Do you represent rural communities that have been impacted by natural disasters? Have families living in those areas been challenged to find temporary housing or other emergency assistance from the federal government following disasters? If so, then please consider cosponsoring the Individual Assistance Improvement Act of 2015, H.R. 4243.
The Individual Assistance Improvement Act of 2015 seeks to help families better access the Federal Emergency Management Agencies’ (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program. The Individual Assistance Program is authorized under the Stafford Act and can provide housing assistance, unemployment assistance, counseling, and other personal support to folks in the wake of a disaster.
Unfortunately, rural communities have struggled to receive individual assistance due to the way FEMA evaluates damages and makes recommendations to the President. While FEMA has recently released a proposal to improve the Individual Assistance Program, it fails to adequately address this challenge. Moreover, it maintains the shroud of secrecy that prevents governors and Native American tribal executives from knowing why their requests for disaster declarations were denied and how to improve the quality of their appeals.
The Individual Assistance Improvement Act of 2015 would fix this. It would waive one of several factors that are used to determine the need for individual assistance, concentration of damages, for rural areas. (Rural areas are those outside of metropolitan statistical areasand those in census tracts in a metropolitan statistical area with a Department of Agriculture rural-urban commuting area code of 4 or higher). The Concentration of Damages factor often is the largest impediment to rural communities receiving access to benefits. The bill would improve the accuracy of the averages used to weigh whether or not individual assistance should be provided, would study the terms and process used to assess damages, and would improve the access governors and tribal executives have to documents and information related to disaster requests.
Please contact Aaron Wasserman (Aaron.Wasserman@mail.house.gov) of Rep. Kilmer’s staff, Robert Biestman (Robert.Biestman@mail.house.gov) of Rep. Reichert’s staff, or (Kyle.Kunkler@mail.house.gov) Kyle Kunkler of Rep. Newhouse’s staff should you have any questions or would like to be added as a cosponsor.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Rep. Derek Kilmer Rep. David Reichert Rep. Dan Newhouse