September 29, 2022

Senator Warren and Representative Espaillat Seek Answers from HUD and FEMA on Disaster Housing Relief

“We urge FEMA and HUD to implement and activate DASH as rapidly as possible to guarantee that necessary resources are available for Hurricane Fiona survivors and survivors of future disasters.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge requesting an update on their plans to implement the Disaster Assistance and Supportive Housing (DASH) program.

In January 2022, HUD spokesperson announced that HUD and FEMA would be partnering to create a program that would offer temporary housing and supportive case management services to low-income disaster survivors. The new Disaster Assistance and Supportive Housing (DASH) program, based on the 2007 Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), would offer temporary housing and supportive case management services to low-income disaster survivors. Despite the announcement that the new program would be ready and implemented in time for hurricane season this year, neither FEMA nor HUD have given any indications on their plans to roll out the program. 

“Year after year we are devastated by hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters and year after year we are ill-prepared to meet the needs of the affected communities,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “As we begin the 2022 hurricane season, I am urging FEMA and HUD to act quickly to implement the DASH program so that no families, no matter their income, fall through service gaps in existing disaster relief programs.”

“We are living in a time where our communities are under-prepared when natural disasters strike as we recently witnessed with Hurricane Fiona—and this is completely unacceptable,” said Representative Adriano Espaillat. “We simply cannot leave residents affected by Fiona vulnerable and must do all that it takes to ensure their path toward recovery. I am proud to work with Senator Warren in urging the swift activation of the Disaster Assistance and Supportive Housing (DASH) program to help address challenges low-income communities disproportionately face. Doing so will reaffirm our work to ensure individuals and families have safe, decent, and affordable rental homes while they rebuild their lives. We encourage FEMA and HUD to work diligently to integrate equity into disaster recovery and ensure the survivors of these natural disasters have all the resources and assistance possible in place to recover.”

Climate change is resulting in more numerous and more severe natural disasters, which disproportionately impact low-income communities of color. The lawmakers are concerned that the delay in activating DASH will result in more harm and slower recoveries for marginalized communities.

“By implementing DASH and ensuring supportive services reach the most marginalized communities, FEMA and HUD would advance the Biden administration’s effort to advance racial equity in disaster responses and provide disaster assistance where it is needed most,” concluded the lawmakers.

Following the impact of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and the impending devastation of Hurricane Ian in Florida, the lawmakers have requested an update on FEMA and HUD’s efforts to implement DASH, and a timeline for the proposed implementation, by October 12, 2022.