Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other acts of God leave thousands of people stranded every year, after their homes are destroyed. It’s estimated that Hurricane Harvey left as many as 30,000 displaced, Hurricane Maria displaced 50,000, and Katrina 600,000. Many of the displaced tend to be extremely low-income, people who have consistently been excluded from government programs. That often leaves them with little choice but to sleep in uninhabitable homes, crowded shelters, or even become homeless.
The Crisis Housing Act Program (CHAP), a new bill introduced this week by Senators Brian Schatz, of Hawaii, and Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, aims to put an end to the cycle of ineligibility and inaction by allowing the dispersal of emergency funds to be automatically triggered after major disasters. That would eliminate congressional stalling every time there’s a catastrophe, and also ensure the poorest qualify for financial assistance.
“When disaster strikes, families shouldn’t be left without a home or stuck in limbo waiting for Congress to pass a disaster relief bill,” Senator Schatz said in a press release. “Too many people in our country are housing insecure, and this is a good first step to building a safety net to support them.”