"For over three decades the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided temporary housing assistance to eligible victims of natural disasters. FEMA has responded to more than a thousand disaster and emergency events over this period, employing a number of options for meeting the needs of people who have lost their primary housing as a result of a disaster declared by the President. The cycle of help from sheltering provided by local organizations in the immediate aftermath, to the eventual repair and rebuilding or replacement of private homes and rental units, is the focus of this report. Because of the historic nature of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, much of FEMA's work has been defined and measured by its response to that event. Katrina was an outlier in scope and not representative of disasters declared, on almost a weekly basis, over the last 30 years. But Katrina highlighted the gaps in FEMA's housing authorities, raised questions regarding the agency's leadership in exercising existing authorities, and provoked an examination of the flexibility, or lack thereof, in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and its implementing regulations. The congressional response to Katrina increased FEMA's authority and ability to address many housing issues in the post-disaster environment. Further, subsequent analysis of the Katrina response has also directed attention to the authorities of other federal agencies charged with federal housing responsibilities."
CRS Report for Congress, R40810