U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Flushing, is calling for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide disaster aid to houses of worship.
The congresswoman said she is attempting to attach an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy aid bill, which will be voted on this week, that would require FEMA to aid houses of worship following natural disasters.
“Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc upon our region and severely damaged many houses of worship that are now in desperate need of repair and are struggling to reopen,” Meng said. “Not allowing them to collect FEMA aid in the wake of one of the nation’s worst natural disasters – but permitting other nonprofits to do so – is unfair and wrong.”
Meng said that many churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are “pillars of their communities” that provide essential services – such as employment, child care and food pantries - to local residents.
A number of houses of worship have applied for FEMA grants following Sandy’s visit to the five boroughs.
But they were denied aid because the federal government does not include houses of worship on a list of eligible organizations that qualify for disaster assistance.
The list includes zoos, museums, libraries, schools and performing arts centers.
Congress will vote on the $51 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package on Jan. 15 on the heels of a recently approved $9.7 billion.
Under Meng’s provision, houses of worship would be added to the bill.