Dear President Biden
The people of Louisiana were hit by 18 months of unprecedented disasters. Severe flooding and subsequent wind damage caused by Hurricanes Laura, Marco, Delta, Zeta, and Ida caused nearly $150 billion in damages to our state. Congress responded by providing $5 billion in disaster relief aid through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD). The purpose of the CDBG-DR is to provide states and local communities with the tools necessary to recover from these disasters by focusing on housing and infrastructure bill.
As you know, two key agencies impact the delivery of CDBG-DR funds. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides disaster data that allows HUD to make its determinations, and HUD determines eligibility and ultimately distributes the funds. It is our understanding that nearly $3 billion of the $5 billion set aside for disaster relief for natural disasters in 2020 and 2021, including Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Ida, is sitting untouched at HUD. The delay in allocating these funds is attributed to an expired data-sharing agreement between HUD and FEMA that significantly impairs FEMA's ability to share damage assessments with HUD. These damage assessments evaluate the scale of destruction caused by natural disasters and, thus, allow HUD to determine which communities to deliver the funding to. Unless this data is shared, HUD will continue to hold money that could be used to help communities recover from these disasters."
Six months have already elapsed since Congress appropriated this funding, and both HUD and FEMA remain in stalemate. Unfortunately, without a solution in sight, Louisiana families are left paying the price for bureaucratic red tape. These funds are the lifeline our people need to get back on their feet and address the dire housing situation caused by these storms. We humbly request that you direct HUD and FEMA to quickly forge a data-sharing agreement between the two agencies. In the event that other significant obstacles are preventing the deployment of this aid, we ask that HUD explain those to use and work with the Louisiana delegation to promptly address these concerns. Your attention to this matter is vital to all those who continue from national disasters.