Bipartisan Bill Aims to Improve Disaster Recovery for Older Adults and People with Disabilities
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate, including Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Representatives Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), recently introduced the “Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion for Disasters Act” (REAADI) to improve disaster response and recovery for older Americans and people with disabilities.
The bill addresses many of the issues identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a report critical of FEMA’s track record in this area. The report had found that a range of officials from entities that partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including states, territories, localities, and nonprofits, reported challenges providing assistance to individuals who are older or have disabilities following the 2017 hurricanes.
If enacted, the legislation would establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters to make policy recommendations for disaster recovery at all levels of government, and it would create a network of training centers and a grant program for state and local governments to better involve and support seniors and people with disabilities during disasters. The bill also directs the Department of Justice to ensure past and future disaster recovery dollars are used in compliance with federal antidiscrimination laws.