July 31, 2017

National Flood Insurance Program Must Account for Low-Income Residents

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The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is an important tool that protects private and public investment in flood-vulnerable communities, and Members of Congress are currently identifying ways to ensure the program’s fiscal solvency and strengthen its impact. At Enterprise, we urge that Congress reauthorize NFIP and restructure it to make the needs of at-risk multifamily communities a priority.

Between 2011 and 2013, the U.S. experienced 32 weather events that each caused at least one billion dollars in damages, and two-thirds of counties nationwide suffered through presidentially-declared disasters. With these extreme weather events occurring more frequently than ever, the need to reform the NFIP is pressing, as highlighted in a recent article in the Washington Post. However, we must consider the needs of low-income communities across the country as we strengthen the NFIP and should not rebuild the program’s deficit at the expense of their safety.

Today, more than 500,000 affordable homes in the U.S. lie in areas vulnerable to serious flooding. Low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities are especially impacted by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and the 2016 Baton Rouge storms because they lack housing and the financial resources for expedient recovery.

By investing in more resilient housing infrastructure we can develop safer and better-prepared communities.

Enterprise works with climate-vulnerable low-income communities across the nation to support resilient design solutions, housing infrastructure and effective policies. For us, creating resilient affordable homes is a critical way to preserve our country’s limited supply of affordable housing. 

 As Congress continues to work through solvency concerns, we recommend the following in order to meet the needs of at-risk multifamily communities:

  • Increase rate caps, maintaining insurance affordability for families and owners of affordable housing;
  • Expand the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program to incentivize building owners to take action to reduce flood costs; 
  • Educate multifamily housing owners on how buildings can be improved to ensure protection against flood damage;
  • Expand the amount of Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) funding to encourage building owners to ensure that properties are repaired and rebuilt in accordance with current code before a disaster strikes;
  • Increase coverage limits for multifamily structures to guarantee safety and well-being for residents living in repaired homes;
  • Accurately map community flood plains, ensuring owners and renters are able to visualize and learn about the geographical risk their homes face.

As extreme weather events become increasingly common, the risk to our communities grows with each passing season. Ensuring insurance affordability and mitigating flood risk will deliver long-term savings for the NFIP and help create more resilient communities across America.

Read more information on our recommendations.

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