June 22-26, 2001

 
 
ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING

DISASTER ASSISTANCE

WHEREAS, cities have a tremendous stake in disaster assistance and are the first-responders to the needs of residents when disasters strike; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) FY 2002 budget request proposes to not only rewrite the insurance requirements for the Public Assistance Program but also scale back on mitigation; and

WHEREAS, the agency's proposal will preclude public entities from receiving Federal disaster assistance if additional Federal insurance mandates are not met, reduce the federal share of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and eliminate key predisaster mitigation assistance; and

WHEREAS, these proposals further shift the financial and administrative burden of disasters--those times of extraordinary need--to cities, states, schools, universities, hospitals and taxpayers with a disproportionate impact on earthquake and other disaster prone areas; and

WHEREAS, cities have determined that mitigation is critical--the recent earthquake in Seattle illustrates that mitigation is an effective means of preventing loss and ultimately saves taxpayer dollars; and

WHEREAS, cities have also determined that earthquake and other disaster prone areas will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to purchase the insurance required by FEMA in its budget request, and that this proposal will adversely impact mitigation efforts by public agencies by requiring that their limited budget resources be spent on insurance instead; and

WHEREAS, Congress supported cities' determinations on insurance and mitigation by eliminating last year the insurance requirement from the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and authorizing a predisaster mitigation program; and

WHEREAS, FEMA additionally backed off the insurance proposal indicating that it needed further analysis and study; and

WHEREAS, faith-based and other private non-profit organizations also are central elements of governments' delivery assistance in times of emergency, providing necessary shelter, housing, and health care for low-income residents; and

WHEREAS, these organizations are required to submit an application and be rejected by the Small Business Administration disaster loan program before FEMA will consider providing disaster grants, thereby adding significant time delay and discouraging involvement of these critically needed private non-profit entities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the Administration and Congress to:

  • Ensure that a comprehensive and detailed financial insurance study that includes consideration of alternatives be conducted with the active input of the affected public entities prior to any decision;
  • Maintain the 75-25 federal-local cost share for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program;
  • Provide predisaster mitigation assistance;
  • Support legislation that provides incentives and resources to cities for disaster loss reduction and prevention measures; and
  • Make clear that the President has the authority under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to define services provided by certain non-profit organizations which serve public purposes as "critical," making these organizations immediately eligible for direct FEMA grant assistance.

Projected Cost: Unknown