Appeal Brief | Appeal Letter | Back
Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 075-99075-00; Calvary Korean Baptist Church
PW ID# N/A; Requests for Public Assistance
January 23, 2013
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
7667 Independence Boulevard
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806
Re: Second Appeal-Calvary Korean Baptist Church, PA ID 075-99075-00, Requests for Public Assistance, FEMA-1603/1607/1786-DR-LA
Dear Mr. Davis:
This letter is in response to a letter from your office dated July 19, 2012, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Calvary Korean Baptist Church (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) decision to deny its Requests for Public Assistance (RPA).
At the request of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), FEMA’s Louisiana Recovery Office (LRO) agreed to evaluate RPAs that were submitted after the deadline by Private Non-Profit (PNP) organizations for assistance under declarations for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav on a case-by-case basis. The Applicant submitted an RPA for FEMA-1603-DR-LA on December 21, 2010, and RPAs for FEMA-1607-DR-LA and FEMA-1786-DR-LA on January 7, 2011. The Applicant requested that FEMA reimburse the costs of repairing damage to a church and two garages. The LRO denied the Applicant’s RPAs with a letter dated November 21, 2011, because the damaged structures did not qualify as eligible PNP facilities as defined in Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR) §206.221(e), Definitions, Private nonprofit facility.
The Applicant’s first appeal, dated January 25, 2012, claimed that the damaged church could no longer support a congregation, thereby impacting the Applicant’s income. The reduction in income hindered the Applicant’s efforts to restore the congregation and affected the Applicant’s ability to house homeless individuals in a nearby undamaged building. The Applicant stated that it was currently renovating the building to provide space for religious services and housing homeless people. GOHSEP transmitted and supported the Applicant’s appeal with a letter dated February 24, 2012, which stated that FEMA’s denial of the Applicant’s RPAs does not have a defined legal basis. The transmittal letter asserted that the Applicant provided an essential governmental service to the community with its homeless shelter which was open to the public in accordance with 44 CFR §206.221(e)(7).
FEMA’s Region VI Regional Administrator (RA) responded to the Applicant’s appeal with a letter dated March 30, 2012. The RA determined that the damaged facilities, which included the church and garages, are used exclusively for religious purposes and do not provide an essential governmental service in accordance with Section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121-5207 (Stafford Act). In addition, the RA explained that to be eligible for Public Assistance funding, a PNP applicant must operate an eligible PNP facility with eligible disaster damage. As the Applicant did not sustain eligible damage to an eligible facility, the RA determined that the Applicant was not eligible for Public Assistance funding under the requested declarations.
The Applicant submitted a second appeal on May 18, 2012, in which it acknowledges that the church was used primarily for worship, but states that it had also been used to shelter the homeless prior to the disaster. Additionally, the appeal letter states that the undamaged building that was used to house homeless people did, in fact, sustain disaster damage, which was repaired through volunteer labor by the congregation. Included with the appeal were photos of the structure.
While FEMA recognizes the vital role that faith based organizations serve in communities, these organizations must satisfy the legal requirements for eligibility in order to receive funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. Pursuant to Section 102 of the Stafford Act, eligible PNP facilities include educational, utility, irrigation, emergency, medical, rehabilitational or custodial care or must provide other essential governmental services to the general public. The Applicant claims that both the church and the fourth structure were used as homeless shelters, one of the eligible functions identified in Section 102 of the Stafford Act. However, the Applicant has not only conceded that the primary function of the church was worship, but has not provided any documentation to establish the other structure as a homeless shelter.
According to Section VII.D of both Recovery Division Policy Number 9521.3, Private Nonprofit Facility Eligibility, published on May 25, 2003, which applied to the Katrina and Rita declarations and its successor, Disaster Assistance Policy 9521.3, Private Nonprofit Facility Eligibility, published on July 18, 2007, which applied to the Gustav declaration, in order for a PNP organization to receive Public Assistance funding, “the facility itself must be primarily used for eligible services.” In cases where a damaged facility is used for both eligible and ineligible purposes and the eligible use exceeds the ineligible use, the total repair costs are reduced by the relative proportion of ineligible use in order to determine the eligible costs.
As the church was not used primarily for an eligible function, the costs of repairing the church are not eligible for FEMA reimbursement. Furthermore, the absence of documentation on the primary function and relative use of space in the fourth structure, the type and extent of disaster damage to the structure, and the costs the Applicant incurred in completing the repairs means that it is not possible to determine the eligibility of the damage or any associated repair work. Finally, it is important to note that 44 CFR §206.226 (c)(2) requires PNP applicants that provide services that are not defined as critical services need to apply for assistance with the Small Business Administration prior to applying for Public Assistance funding for permanent repair work.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
cc: Tony Robinson
Acting Regional Administrator
FEMA Region VI