MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina lawmakers want to change the formula that decides where grant funding goes after a disaster.
Representatives Tom Rice and James Clyburn introduced the bipartisan legislation this week, that would change the standards of eligibility for disaster relief grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For ZIP codes where the median household income is less than 75% of the national median, the bill would get rid of minimum damage thresholds for Community Development Block Grants for disaster recovery.
“Even if you had a presidential declared disaster area unless your county had $10 million in [damage] or your ZIP code had $2 million in [damage], then you didn’t quality,” Rice said. “Even if your house got blown away.”
Rice said getting rid of the thresholds is about ensuring low-income, rural areas get the help they need following a disaster.
“A lot of very poor people were just left out,” he said. “Takes a lot more damage in Dillon and Marion and Marlboro Counties where we have a lot of people that live in poverty.”
The South Carolina Office of Resilience was recently formed and works to ensure the state is better prepared for future disasters. The office has voiced its support of the bill.
“(It) will greatly expand the number of communities that would potentially be eligible and it’s really going to be beneficial if it’s enacted for a lot of our rural counties.”
Rice hopes to gather bipartisan support to help the bill pass. He believes having Clyburn on it will also help to propel it forward.