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Rubio, Kennedy, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Simplify Disaster Assistance for Hurricane Victims

Dec 14, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Kennedy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced S. 2226, the Disaster Assistance Simplification Act, legislation that would prohibit the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from penalizing victims of natural disasters who apply for, but decline, Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans.
Survivors of natural disasters who apply for, but do not accept, SBA disaster loans are currently penalized when Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) disaster relief funds are awarded. Every dollar of SBA loan money they are approved for is a dollar less that can be awarded in CDBG disaster relief grants. This bill would prevent HUD from penalizing those applicants.
In September, Rubio urged HUD Secretary Ben Carson to address this issue by not penalizing those impacted in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
“Hurricane Irma caused catastrophic destruction throughout Florida, and disrupted the lives of millions of Americans,” said Rubio. “The current disaster assistance process is unsynchronized and burdensome for victims of natural disasters. By penalizing victims who don’t take assistance, our laws discourage victims from applying for SBA disaster loans. As many Americans continue to rebuild and recover from the storm, removing bureaucratic hurdles is imperative to ensuring that no victim is penalized for weighing their hurricane recovery options.”
“Hurricane victims need help when disaster strikes, not roadblocks that hinder their recovery.  Under the current rules, homeowners who apply for an SBA loan but don’t accept it are penalized. That’s incredibly unfair.  It’s like charging someone for window shopping,” said Kennedy. “As we’ve had the misfortune to see in Louisiana, hurricanes destroy homes and upend lives.  Hurricane victims need simplicity, clarity and fairness as they rebuild.  This bill will give them that.”
“When people are struggling to recover in the wake of a massive storm, time is of the essence,” said Nelson. “This bill will make it easier for people to get the help they need, when they need it – without having to worry about government red tape.”
“I am pleased to sponsor this important legislation which will be critical to the state of Texas in our Harvey recovery efforts,” said Cruz. “Rebuilding after a hurricane is a monumental and complicated task so it is imperative that there is clarity in the process and that disaster survivors aren’t unknowingly penalized from receiving future aid by simply applying for certain disaster-relief.”