City Launches New Disaster Aid Program

disaster aid
Dallas City Hall | Image by Jonathan Richie/The Dallas Express

The Dallas City Council approved a new disaster aid program on Wednesday for city residents displaced by natural disasters.

The City Disaster Aid Program will provide up to $1,000 in “immediate financial assistance” to city residents whose homes are destroyed by a natural disaster but who are ineligible for assistance from the American Red Cross, the City’s primary partner in disaster aid.

Usually, if a disaster like a flood or fire displaces families from their homes, the Office of Emergency Management opens a shelter for 72 hours, according to City documents.

The Disaster Aid Program aims to reduce the number of families in congregate shelters by providing them with funds for immediate temporary housing, such as a hotel room, and other essentials, like clothing and toiletries, for a “short-term recovery period.”

“It gives us another tool to be able to immediately help residents when they’re in dire straits,” said Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz, per The Dallas Morning News.

“We’ve run into incidents where an apartment fire didn’t meet the Red Cross’ criteria to help, or there were too many people affected for the Red Cross to help, so we’re hoping this fills gaps like that,” Vaz said.

Vaz said the program was aimed primarily at renters who live in apartment complexes, but homeowners can also be considered for assistance.

People living within Dallas proper whose residence has been declared uninhabitable by Dallas Fire-Rescue, Code Compliance, or the City Building Official may be eligible for the program.

The program aims to intervene when a landlord or property manager cannot house residents in other locations, such as vacant units.

“This is meant to provide short-term assistance,” claimed Vaz, per the DMN. “The goal is to help families get through the first 72 hours of a disaster as they look at other resources.”

No taxpayer funding was directly authorized on Wednesday, but the program will provide eligible families with between $500 and $1,000 as needed. A family of 1-4 members in a household would receive $500, while a family of 5-7 members would be granted $800. A family with more than eight members in the household will receive $1,000.

There is no income requirement to receive assistance under the plan, according to Vaz. The money would be given to families via an electronic fund transfer or cash equivalents such as gift cards.

The Disaster Aid Program was approved on Wednesday’s unanimous consent agenda without comments from council members.

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