FEMA ▶ Social Current See

Chances are the hashtag #FEMA is not an internet search you would normally conduct or follow, unless you have a disaster recovery matter to cover.

And, in a related matter, January 17, 1994 seems like a distant searchable date, but the day is memorable around the world and in particular for California as the occurrence of the devastating Northridge Earthquake.  For homeowners around the TRILOGY of neighborhoods in the Temescal Valley, the Northridge Quake may be a distant memory, but it is a harbinger of events that may follow.  Many authorities, including seismologists, are predicting that California is overdue for another Northridge-type quake.  Question is: When and where will this happen across our 163,696 square miles (423,970 km)?

These questions are given some immediacy because, last week, on our Federal Capitol Hill, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) introduced the Disaster Assistance Support for Communities and Homeowners Act of 2017, H.R. 1684. This bill directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide technical assistance to condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives regarding the process to become eligible for disaster assistance.  Certainly, a step in the right direction for granting community associations equal access to disaster programs! Another bill that will impact community associations is the Disaster Assistance Equity Act (DAEC) which is slated to be introduced later this year and is discussed in further detail below. The DAEC was first drafted in 2012 and still remains not passed and unsigned.  ▶ LINK

The so-called technical assistance part of this legislation will better need to be defined because it appears to be a bit like the taxpayers task of getting H&R Block or TurboTax to help with tax form preparation.  Those companies don't pay taxes for Americans; but simply assist with completing and filing forms. The story and a copy of H.R. 1684 are embedded in the content below.

Now, the basic challenge of the aforementioned legislation and FEMA culture change is that FEMA has for decades treated homeowners differently who reside in common interest developments (aka homeowner associations or HOAs).  Such communities account for around 350,000 USA neighborhoods, according to CAI statistics, and around 30 million housing units with close to 70 million residents.

Isn't it about time for a change of policy by FEMA to treat common interest developments as residential communities, not business entities?  That policy change evidently requires and act of congress.

Given the importance of this issue for HOA homeowners, we find agreement as HOA blogger and journalist Deborah Goonan who wrote in November 2015: "I have previously written about Community Associations Institute (CAI), an HOA trade group, and its three Federal issues (pet peeves). One of those issues is what CAI calls Disaster Relief Fairness." 

Source:  http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/40303

The following document, although dated January 14, 2010, may provide some insights into emergency management since the document origin is FEMA. Until the two pieces of legislation are passed by Congress, as identified in this post above, don't expect much more real assistance by FEMA if you live in a common interest development and are attempting to manage disaster recovery following any type of major community disaster, especially an earthquake.

The following VIDEO, also produced by FEMA, is dated from September 25, 2015.

Canswerist® ▶ aka Altaloman® Foxworth, Mike & Dee ▶ GPx2, SCTS▶ ALTACITIES®, "Today Tweets Are Tomorrow's Posts"
▶altacities.com canswerist.com socialcurrentsee.com

If you have a question about how FEMA could possibly have a policy to treat common interest developments (aka HOAs) as business enterprises, just check out the website for the Community Association Institute (CAI):  LINK

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  1. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders on April 1, 1979. The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities. The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster. FEMA also provides these services for territories of the United States, such as Puerto Rico. The only exception to the state's gubernatorial declaration requirement occurs when an emergency and/or disaster takes place on federal property or to a federal asset, for example; the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, or the Space Shuttle Columbia in the 2003 return-flight disaster.

  2. Given the nearly 4-decade history of FEMA and the existence of common interest developments (CIDs) for decades prior, why has FEMA had an agency policy not to assist CIDs or HOAs for their entire history because the agency views these communities are business entities, not residential communities. Efforts (detailed above) are underway to change policy, but not without an act of Congress. Those serious legislative efforts began circa 2012, but are not yet accomplished.

  3. You might think that the topic is "disaster recovery" would invoke constant comments and observations in California which is, of course, the general epicenter of earthquakes. Oklahoma may be pushing for that distinction in recent years. For those homeowners in our 1317 TRILOGY Glen Ivy community, a 55+ HOA in the Temescal Valley, the topic of disaster recovery was taken on some importance due to work of the Cobblestone Canyon Disaster Recovery Committee, now wrapping up about two years of research and investigation.

  4. The efforts to make HOAs eligible for FEMA coverage presents a certain paradox, a conundrum in public policy toward private enterprise, on that the legislative proposal cited here may not address.

    On this subject, this BLOG post might need consideration▶ https://goo.gl/QLB0P8

    HOA blogger and journalist Deborah Goonan writes: “the original premise behind HOAs was to create new housing and increase the tax base of local governments, but with minimal impact upon that local government’s operating budget. 

“In return, developers were granted dominion over private communities during construction, Association Boards were granted exceptional powers to manage community affairs without government interference, and homeowners were granted the supposed prestige and privilege of living in a more-or-less self-contained housing community,” writes Goonan in the blog post, Should HOAs be eligible for FEMA Public Assistance? LINK▶ https://goo.gl/QLB0P8

    Now that HOAs in the USA number in the range of 350,000 communities, 30 million housing units, and around 70 million residents, the idea a disaster recovery sparks a lively and necessary debate: Should these private communities be eligible for a portion of all of the redevelopment costs in case of a natural disaster like an earthquake. 

    In the 1970s and before, Goonan observes, “when HOAs were still relatively new in America, there was a general discontent with how municipal governments were performing, and so certain stakeholders in the real estate industry decided that Associations could do a better job, and set out to sell that concept to millions of American home buyers.”

    But associations everywhere eventually meet a maximum capacity for infrastructure improvements and redevelopment funding. After all, the only real source of funding for HOAs is the membership. We don’t need extensive research that municipalities (cities and counties) have redevelopment authority to enter the private and public bond markets to raise capital for such needs. HOAs do not.

    But the Federal and state government are more than happy to take tax revenues – property, sales, and income tax – to create all these agencies, including FEMA and DHEC. And local governments in particular seem more than happy to push privatization of essential services, giving Americans fewer and fewer non-HOA choices.

    Goonan sounds another alarm: “Then government agencies don’t do what they are supposed to do, and expect “private” HOAs to figure it out for themselves when disaster strikes. And that is definitely not disclosed to buyers or current owners.News flash: That’s what privatization is all about!”

    I agree with the basic Goonan premise: “t seems that there is nothing to stop a homeowner, condo, or cooperative association from applying for a Small Business Administration loan, as an alternative source of FEMA assistance, albeit the kind of assistance that has to be paid back.”

    "Apparently, now the Community Associations Institute (CAI) wants associations to be regarded as a mini-government in this instance. In this case, they want government interference in the form of FEMA grants and emergency assistance to repair common elements in condominiums and cooperatives, and also with debris removal for all homeowner associations.

    Finally, Goonan concludes: “So I suppose that if FEMA decides that HOAs are “governmental in nature,” and deserving of Public Assistance, then we should soon see major changes in governance policy. Surely, the federal government will require all Association-Governed Residential Communities to provide meetings and official documents that are open to the general public. Free Speech, Due Process, and all the rest of our Constitutional rights will apply, as they do in schools, universities, public housing, and medical facilities.”


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