Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Actby Representative Michael G. Fitzpatrick
Posted on 2014-01-08
FITZPATRICK. I thank my colleague from the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania (Mr. Marino) for organizing this Special Order here this
And I know that Representative Marino, like myself, is hearing from our constituents back home in Pennsylvania. They live, many of them, in areas that are surrounded by properties that are habitually and repetitively flooded. They pay their flood insurance premiums faithfully each and every year, and they are being negatively impacted by FEMA's implementation of the flood insurance reforms that occurred.
Last year, the reforms to the flood insurance program were passed because, since 2006, the Government Accountability Office has warned that the program was putting taxpayers at a high risk because of losses from Katrina back in 2005 and subsequent disasters. And since then, the program has been subsidized by the taxpayers and currently owes the Treasury--we heard earlier this evening perhaps as much as $30 billion. And as the GAO stated, these risks are the result of structural weaknesses and how the rate structure provides funding to the program itself. As a result of this, the House and the Senate came together, and they reformed the program in some very important ways.
However, just because the National Flood Insurance Program was in desperate need of reform does not mean that we should just simply walk away and consider our jobs to be done. There are families across the country and in my district who are suffering from what they refer to as rate shock. I have heard from homeowners; I have heard from senior citizens who have lived in their homes for decades, trying to sell their homes in retirement. I have heard from young couples, newly married, first-time home buyers who have encountered significant challenges while trying to either sell their homes or purchase their first home. Some families are facing increases of up to 500 percent or more, and we heard about some of those examples tonight.
My office is working with many constituents, including one senior citizen from the section of Bristol Township, a beautiful section, a working-class neighborhood called Croydon, subject to some flooding. This homeowner raised her family, lived in the home for decades and now in her retirement wants to sell the asset she has in retirement, her home. And because the rates have been significantly increased and increased sort of going over a cliff--not over time but all at once-- many potential buyers have walked away from her property and just said that they simply can't afford to purchase the property. She can't afford to sell the property. In her senior years, [[Page H61]] that dream of retirement, she has been trapped in her home that she wanted to sell and move on into her retirement.
One possible solution is to more gently phase in the rate adjustments. Another would be to just freeze them outright while we work on a longer-term solution. Either way, I look forward to working with my colleagues, including those speaking here this evening. We can find a way to move forward with crucial reforms to a very important program while still protecting the families that we represent from reductions in the values of the homes that may very well be the only asset that they have or were counting on in their retirement.
So with that, Mr. Marino, I thank you for your interest and concern for our mutual constituents back home in Pennsylvania on this issue.