Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), introduced the Shelter Act, to help Americans protect their homes or businesses against hurricanes, tornados, floods, drought, and wildfires. The Shelter Act would create a first-of-its-kind disaster mitigation tax credit for families and business owners in disaster-prone areas.
“As Americans, we know all too well that disaster can strike when we least expect it. For working families who own homes and businesses, a natural disaster can leave their lives and livelihoods literally in pieces,” said Crist. “This bipartisan legislation puts power back into the hands of the people, rewarding small businesses and homeowners who prepare for the unexpected and invest in protecting their property from hurricanes, floods, and everything in between.”
“With Hurricane Season underway, my constituents and all Americans living in coastal regions are susceptible to these devastating storms. Disaster can strike at any time, often with little warning. It’s never too early to prepare. Taking steps now to reinforce a roof covering, or protect an exterior window, could mean the difference between saving money in the long-run and dealing with major property damage,” said Bilirakis. “This legislation is about helping our communities be proactive when it comes to preparing for Hurricane Season. Our local emergency managers in Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties do an incredible job of ensuring our communities are ready. But preparedness must also begin at home. Our bill encourages that.”
“For millions of people in Colorado and across the country, a devastating natural disaster isn’t a matter of if, but when,” said Bennet. “While Americans can receive federal tax relief following a disaster, there isn’t an incentive to prepare for future threats. Our Shelter Act would change that by encouraging taxpayers to make critical investments in safeguarding their homes and businesses—helping to defend properties from future disasters and save lives.”
“What’s better than a quick recovery after a flood is never flooding at all,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Investing in flood mitigation projects decreases the impact of storms and saves families from total devastation.”
Despite hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars spent on disaster recovery each year, there are currently no federal tax incentives to encourage mitigation. The Shelter Act allows Americans to write off 25 percent of qualifying mitigation expenses, from strengthening the durability of a roof to elevating a housing unit to reduce potential flood damage. The tax credit has an annual limit of up to $5,000 per taxpayer. Eligible properties include homes or businesses in or adjacent to an area that the federal government has declared a disaster within the past 10 years. Taxpayers who rent a property in eligible areas can also receive the credit.
The Shelter Act is supported by the following organizations and businesses: BuildStrong Coalition, Federal Alliance for Safer Homes, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, National Association of Home Builders, National Ready Mix Concreate Association, National Realtors Association, The Smarter Safer Coalition, and The Home Depot.
Statements in Support of the Shelter Act:
“This legislation recognizes that strengthening your roof and other home details can mean the difference between returning home after a severe weather event or facing painful losses and possibly months of displacement and disruption. Decades of research shows that getting the roof right and taking other steps to improve a home’s durability may cost a little extra up front, but will save far more over the long run. By including FORTIFIED Home as a qualified activity, this legislation offers important federal partnership and help for homeowners,” said Roy E. Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. “No one wants to rely on someone else to come bail them out after a storm. No one wants to live for months in a crowded hotel room, or with in-laws or other family members while their home is repaired or rebuilt. With this legislation, the Government is embracing its role in helping Americans prevent avoidable disaster. A FORTIFIED Home represents the national standard for wind resilience and it is meant to be there for families after the storm passes.”
“We applaud Sens. Bennet and Cassidy, and Reps. Bilirakis and Crist, for introducing the Shelter Act. As weather events continue to increase in severity, the Act provides more Americans the option to undertake measures to protect their homes from nature’s wrath through structural or nature based mitigation.” — Smarter Safer Coalition.