Agreement allows HUD ‘to hit the ground running’ after Presidential Declarations
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Many disaster survivors who have been forced from their homes will access critically needed housing information and assistance more quickly because of an agreement signed today between the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations, HUD will gain access to Red Cross shelters in the earliest stages of a presidentially declared disaster and can begin to respond to the housing needs of certain eligible HUD-assisted, elderly and other special needs residents.
The American Red Cross will allow HUD disaster response staff access to congregate shelters following the declaration of a major disaster by the President. HUD will then begin to inform all sheltered families of available housing opportunities through the Department’s new National Housing Locator. In addition, HUD will be able to register previously HUD-assisted families and other eligible special needs persons for the Department’s housing assistance programs.
Joe Becker, Red Cross Senior Vice President for Disaster Services, and Nelson R. Bregon, HUD’s Assistant Deputy Secretary for Disaster Policy and Response, signed the agreement during a ceremony held in the non-profit’s disaster operations center.
Both officials commented on the importance of agreements such as these when trying to help families recover from their losses. “These large disasters often leave behind despair and confusion in the hearts and minds of disaster survivors,” said Becker. “All of us who work to help these individuals must keep this in mind, and do all that we can to get the necessary services to them as quickly as possible. This agreement between the Red Cross and HUD is a great step forward in that direction.”
Bregon agreed, saying, “This agreement gives us a huge head start in responding to major disasters. By getting access to eligible families when they first enter a Red Cross shelter allows us to hit the ground running and provide the help these families need to begin to put their lives back together.”
During Presidentially-declared disasters, HUD is authorized to offer an array of services to assist certain eligible displaced families as they seek to recover from their losses. For example:
— The National Housing Locator combines federal housing resources with and housing websites to offer one web-based platform that allows housing agency personnel and emergency responders immediate access to available rental housing resources nationwide.
— Once the President declares a major disaster, HUD immediately issues a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages;
–Making mortgage insurance available (http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/ins/203h-dft.cfm)- HUD’s Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or another home. Borrowers are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs; and
–Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation (http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/203k/203k–df.cfm) – HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.
For more information about these and other HUD programs designed to assist disaster victims, visit http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/dri/
HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at http://www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.
The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood–the gift of life–through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.
SOURCE American Red Cross
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