Press Releases

Congresswoman Fletcher and Congressman Rice Introduce the Bipartisan FEMA Relief Extension Act

Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan FEMA Relief Extension Act to extend the period of time for individuals and households to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) temporary housing assistance from 18 months to 24 months following a presidentially declared emergency or disaster.

“When disasters happen, it takes time for people to gain a full understanding of the scope of the damage and the assistance available to them,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher.  “I am glad to work with Congressman Rice to introduce legislation that gives victims of natural disasters flexibility when applying for assistance.  From our experience in Houston, we know that extending temporary housing assistance to give people recovering from disaster more time to secure the assistance they need to rebuild and to prepare for the next storm is one of the most helpful things we can do.”

“I hear frequently from South Carolinians about their frustrations with FEMA and the disaster relief process.  This legislation will give folks who utilize FEMA assistance more flexibility after disasters and emergencies,” said Congressman Tom Rice.  “Oftentimes, it can take months to receive estimates, make repairs, and restore a home to a livable condition.  This legislation adjusts a pressing deadline to give folks some peace of mind and extra time while recovering.” 

“As communities from South Carolina to the Texas Gulf Coast face unprecedented damage from rising seas and stronger, more frequent storms, it is vital that our disaster relief programs quickly and efficiently provide resources to those who need help most.  I thank Congressman Rice and Congresswoman Fletcher for their bipartisan leadership to ensure that disaster victims can access relief through FEMA’s Individual Assistance program for longer time frames.  We know the road to recovery can be long and difficult, and this bill is an important first step in delivering more comprehensive and effective support in the wake of catastrophic floods,” saidMelissa Roberts, Executive Director, American Flood Coalition.

FEMA’s Individual Assistance (IA) program includes financial and direct assistance, including housing assistance, for eligible individuals and households with uninsured or underinsured expenses resulting from a presidentially declared emergency or disaster.  This legislation amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to extend federal housing assistance to individuals and households from an 18-month period to a 24-month period.

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher’s bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1917, the Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act, passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  The HELP Act eliminates unnecessary bureaucratic delays to beginning recovery projects by allowing certain eligible disaster mitigation projects to begin without the risk of losing potential federal funds.  The legislation is awaiting final passage in the House of Representatives.