U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

27/03/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 27/03/2024 21:13

Peters Bipartisan Bill to Create One Deadline to Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance Programs for Individuals Signed into Law ➞

WASHINGTON, DC - Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to create one application deadline for two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs that individuals use for federal disaster assistance has been signed into law. FEMA's Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and Individuals and Households Program (IHP) previously had different application deadlines following a disaster declaration, which can cause confusion for disaster survivors who may have trouble tracking when they need to apply for each program. The new law will ensure these programs have the same deadline to reduce the burden on people who need them to rebuild their lives after disasters.

"Following a natural disaster, survivors shouldn't have to worry about conflicting deadlines when applying to federal disaster assistance programs. This new law limits confusion within the application process and make it easier for families in need to access these critical resources," said Chairman Peters.

The bipartisan Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act helps reduce confusion for disaster survivors by requiring the deadline to apply for DUA match the IHP deadline when both programs are authorized in a disaster. Currently, the DUA deadline is 30 days and the IHP deadline is 60 days after a federal disaster declaration.

As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led several efforts to strengthen our federal disaster preparedness and response. Peters' bipartisan bill to simplify the federal application process by creating a universal FEMA application across federal agencies passed in the Senate. Peters secured $500 million in funding as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill for a program he created to help states establish revolving loan programs for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce the risk of shoreline erosion, extreme flooding, and other natural disasters. Peters' bipartisan legislation to protect FEMA Reservists from losing their full-time employment when they are called up to assist communities with disaster response was also signed into law. Finally, Peters' bill to help protect pets and other animals during and in the aftermath of natural disasters and emergencies was also signed into law.

Below are statements in support of the senator's law:

"When disasters strike, county officials and emergency responders play a critical role in the immediate response and longer-term efforts to help our communities and residents recover," said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. "Once federal assistance becomes available, residents often must complete complex, arduous applications with inconsistent deadlines during the most stressful times of their lives. The bipartisan Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act would align deadlines between FEMA's Disaster Unemployment Assistance and the Individuals and Households Program, two financial lifelines for our residents. We thank Senators Peters, Paul and Rubio for leading this legislation and urge its passage into law."

"SBP is proud to support efforts that streamline the disaster recovery process and allow more survivors to access the assistance they need," said SBP Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Reese May. "Aligning the application timelines for FEMA's Individuals and Households Program and Disaster Unemployment Assistance prevents further confusion among applicants and eases access to disaster assistance for survivors."

"We know that navigating the impacts of disasters can present an enormous burden to families. By streamlining deadlines for disaster unemployment with other FEMA programs, it can limit the complexity for those impacted," said Team Rubicon Chief Programs Officer David Burke. "Team Rubicon supports the Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act of 2023 as one small step to help disaster survivors."

"Federal assistance complexity after disasters is a barrier to help, and floods can often take weeks after a disaster declaration to recede. Aligning Disaster Unemployment Assistance with IHP deadlines which reduces complexity, and giving an extra 30 days or more to file for assistance, will be very helpful to many flood survivors in putting their lives back to normal," Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, Association of State Floodplain Managers.

"American Flood Coalition Action is proud to support this common sense proposal to simplify the federal disaster assistance process by aligning program deadlines," said Brandon Renz, Senior Government Relations Director at American Flood Coalition Action. "We appreciate Chairman Peters and Senator Rubio's bipartisan efforts to support survivors navigating federal programs as they rebuild their lives in the wake of major floods and other disasters."

"The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) applauds Chairman Peters, Ranking Member Paul, and Senator Rubio for their commitment to the simplification of the application process for disaster survivors, and we endorse S.1858, the Disaster Assistance Deadlines Alignment Act," said Cathy M. Clark, M.A., President, IAEM-USA. "This bill is another common-sense reform that will align application deadlines between Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and Individuals and Households Program (IHP) when both are approved after a major disaster."

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