SmarterSafer.org Kicks Off Hurricane Season by Applauding New Natural Disaster Mitigation Act

The Rooney-Thompson Bill Would Benefit Taxpayers and Help Lower-Income Americans Protect Homes and Property

(Washington) ‒As the 2011 Hurricane Season officially begins, SmarterSafer.org today strongly endorsed new bipartisan legislation called “The Natural Disaster Mitigation Act” which was introduced by Reps. Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS). The bill would provide low-income homeowners with a personal tax credit for taking mitigation measures that offer protection from natural disasters. The proposed credit amount is equal to 25 percent of the qualified natural disaster mitigation expenditures made by the taxpayer, up to $5,000 once per property.

“An active to extremely active hurricane season is expected this year according to the seasonal outlook issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. This prediction emphasizes the need to prepare in advance of potentially violent hurricanes that could threaten millions of lives and homes in its path. Low-income housing is frequently older and less likely to be built to withstand storms, floods and other natural disasters,” said SmarterSafer.org. “The Natural Disaster Mitigation Act will help middle and lower-income Americans protect their lives and property while benefiting all U.S. taxpayers by creating safer communities that can withstand natural disasters.”

“SmarterSafer.org applauds Congressman Rooney and Thompson for their leadership on this crucial issue. Not only will it help protect our nation’s most vulnerable populations, but it will actually end up saving taxpayers money in the long run. We hope Congress will move quickly to pass this vital piece of legislation.”

Spending on mitigation is a cost effective way to limit the damage caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, and other events. When communities and homes are stronger, there is less damage, disaster assistance, clean up, displacement and rebuilding after a storm. For every $1 spent on mitigation, $4 is saved because less clean up and rebuilding is necessary after a disaster. In addition, mitigation measures have saved more than 200 lives between 1993 and 2003 and prevented 4,700 injuries over 50 years.

Under the bill, qualified natural disaster expenditures would include strengthening roofs, improving water protection protecting openings from penetration by windborne debris, sesmic retrofits, and protecting exterior doors and garages. Onsite preparation, assembly or original installation of the property would have to be completed in a manner that is deemed to be adequate by a certified inspector.

Low-income families and communities can be most severely impacted by natural disasters. Damages often go unattended, leaving housing stock more vulnerable to future disasters. Low-income families are less likely to be able to afford mitigation measures, are most affected by displacement, and often do not have the means to rebuild.

SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.

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Contact: Matt Englehart
(202) 415-5313