Build Strong Coalition National Mitigation Investment Strategy
The current system invests far too heavily in post-disaster mitigation while spending very little on pre-disaster mitigation. The Safe Building Code Incentive Act, Disaster Savings Accounts Act, the Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act, and the FEMA Disaster Assistance and Reauthorization Act address the major flaws in the federal disaster spending system by providing the framework for a National Mitigation Investment Strategy.
Resilient Construction FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants
Not enough resources are being focused on pre-disaster mitigation, particularly as it relates to residential building codes. Resilient Construction FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants would create a program to operate inside the existing FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation program to provide qualified states and localities with the opportunity to apply for budget grants to defray the enactment and enforcement cost for qualified building codes.
The Safe Building Code Incentive Act
Currently, state-level interest in disaster mitigation is not being fostered by the federal government. H.R. 1748 -- The Safe Building Code Incentive Act -- would provide a powerful incentive to states to adopt and enforce stronger statewide building codes. If enacted into law, states that adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes for residential and commercial structures would qualify for an additional four percent of funding available for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) grants.
FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Budget Increase
Between fiscal years 2011-2014, the federal government allocated roughly $222 million for pre-disaster mitigation compared to $3.2 billion for post-disaster mitigation, a ratio of roughly 1:14. The advantages of pre-disaster mitigation are well documented, but – based on this ratio – it is clear that Congress must reexamine the current balance between pre- and post-disaster spending. By increasing FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program budget by $100 million per year from fiscal years 2016 to 2020, this significant imbalance could be remedied. This additional $500 million investment in pre-disaster mitigation will allow states to apply for mitigation grants before disaster strikes, reducing the incentive for states to wait until after a disaster to implement mitigation. Applying these funding changes to PDM from fiscal years 2011-2014 would have provided a much more balanced approach and would have changed the ratio of pre- to post-disaster spending from 1:14 to 1:4.
The Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act
Builders and homeowners often choose not to pursue opportunities to integrate hazard mitigation into the rebuilding process after a natural disaster due to the highly fragmented grant system, uncertain timing of the grant approval process, and exhaustive application requirements. The Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act would establish a clear and permanent tax credit for owners and/or contractors who use resilient construction techniques when building and renovating homes and commercial structures in federally declared disaster areas. This legislation complements the Safe Building Code Incentive Act by providing an incentive for individuals to rebuild to a stronger standard.
The FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform and Reauthorization Act
It has been over 20 years since a comprehensive assessment of federal disaster spending was last undertaken. Given the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy on federal disaster spending, the current system is drastically different today than it was 20 years ago. The FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform and Reauthorization Act will study costs and losses from natural disasters; identify what disaster assistance is available from all federal sources (including descriptions of programs, eligibility and authorities), where assistance has been used geographically, how quickly the funds are used, and how that assistance is coordinated among the various agencies and departments; and provide recommendations on ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the delivery of such assistance. Furthermore, the study will provide recommendations on the fundamental principles that should drive national disaster assistance decision making, including the appropriate roles for each level of government, the private sector, and individuals.