U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) introduced a bipartisan bill this week to ensure houses of worship damaged during recent and future disasters are eligible for federal financial aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) based on the same terms as other, similarly eligible nonprofit organizations.
"Faith-based groups deserve the same opportunities to receive federal disaster aid as other nonprofit organizations," Blunt said. "I'm glad to introduce this bill with Senator Gillibrand to help rebuild houses of worship impacted by recent and future natural disasters."
"This bipartisan legislation would ensure that we stand by every community center in need of aid to rebuild from structural damage caused by Superstorm Sandy," said Gillibrand. "It is critical that our faith-based organizations and houses of worship have access to federal resources to help rebuild and recover."
Under the Stafford Act and current FEMA policy, various types of "private nonprofit facilities" are eligible for federal aid to repair their disaster-damaged facilities. Eligible facilities include: museums, libraries, community centers, performing arts facilities, homeless shelters, senior centers, and others. Currently, the Stafford Act does not explicitly exclude or include houses of worship, yet FEMA's policy does exclude them from full and equal eligibility to similarly situated nonprofit organizations.