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April 2023 » 69 J O U R N A L April 2023 Government HUD OVERHAULS ITS DISASTER RECOVERY ASSISTANCE EFFORTS T he U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced an overhaul of its disaster recovery efforts to better serve communities that face the direct impacts of weather-related disasters. HUD is establishing an Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in the Office of the Deputy Secretary, the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR) within the Office of Community Planning and Development, the addition of dozens of new HUD staff members to help expedite recovery processes, and the allocation of more than $3.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. These steps will streamline HUD's disaster recovery and resilience work by increasing coordination, reducing bureaucracy, and increasing the capacity to get recovery funding to communities more quickly by facilitating collaborative, transparent disaster recovery planning with communities earlier in the process. HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge made the announcement at HUD's new office in Jackson, Kentucky, as the state received nearly $300 million in aid, while HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman made the announcement in Ft. Myers, Florida, as communities throughout Florida will receive more than $2.7 billion statewide. "HUD is committed to helping underserved communities in hard-hit areas recover from disasters," HUD Secretary Fudge said. "We know that far too often, not-so-privileged households bear the brunt of weather-related disasters. We will ensure they have access to the resources they need to rebuild and recover, equitably. Today's announcement sends a strong message: equity is elemental to the disaster recovery work of HUD and the Biden- Harris administration." HUD's announcement follows the first time the Department has asked the public for feedback on how to simplify, modernize, and more equitably distribute critical disaster recovery funds: Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG- DR) and Mitigation (CDBG-MIT). Given the increased role as the lead federal agency for housing recovery and the impact of disasters on the Department's portfolios, a pronounced need has emerged for enhanced coordination Department-wide, as well as with other federal, state, and local partners to assist impacted communities and families. The allocated funds will help communities in Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Puerto Rico recover from disasters and build resilience, with a specific focus on low- and moderate-income populations. The funds are specified to be used for disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, economic revitalization, and mitigation, in the most impacted and distressed areas. Over the last two decades, an increasing number of major disasters have impacted the nation and highlighted the importance of effective disaster management at the federal, state, and local levels of government. HUD plays a role in preparing relocations of populations, addressing disaster-related housing needs, supporting FEMA with evacuation, sheltering HUD-assisted residents, developing interim housing solutions, and leading planning and supporting long-term, sustainable community recovery. Equitable disaster recovery and resilience is a priority of HUD's Climate Action Plan, which notes that the Department is committed to advancing the goals of Executive Order 13985. This requires HUD to allocate resources in a manner that equitably invests in underserved communities, particularly in communities of color.

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