FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support New Jersey and New York in meeting the housing needs of survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
As we begin to focus on longer-term recovery from the storm, the affected states are taking the lead to identify their local needs and resources by convening State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces. The State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces in New York and New Jersey involve a collaborative approach to addressing the temporary housing and long-term needs of the disaster survivors, including the collection of available rental resources, projecting housing needs and exploring other options. Task Forces include representatives from state, local, and voluntary agencies, and federal partners including FEMA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The teams are working together to ensure they are making the greatest use of existing housing resources (such as apartments and rental units), enlisting voluntary agencies to make minor repairs so survivors can remain in their homes, and investigating other temporary housing options suitable for the area.
In coordination with the State-Led Housing Task Forces, FEMA has several temporary housing assistance options that can help to ensure survivors have access to safe, secure housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The types of housing assistance used will depend on the needs of each individual community and can include:
- Transitional Housing Assistance: At the request of New York and New Jersey, FEMA has activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program, which allows eligible survivors who are in shelters and cannot return to their homes due to storm-related damages to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.
- Housing Rental Assistance: If a home cannot be repaired easily to safe and sanitary conditions, then local rental resources are the preferred first choice for housing disaster survivors as they recover. FEMA authorized funds to increase the amount of rental assistance that it may provide eligible disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey to 125 percent. This increase will be implemented when a survivor is recertified for a continued need for temporary housing assistance. The approved increase is expected to make an additional 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey.
Families and individuals in eligible counties within New York and New Jersey, who are registered for federal disaster assistance and seeking rental resources can search through hundreds of listings on the FEMA Housing Portal. The FEMA Housing Portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by a variety of federal agencies, including HUD, USDA, and VA, and also lists rental properties provided by private organizations and property owners willing to help their neighbors during these difficult times.
To ensure FEMA is able to meet the housing needs of all survivors, FEMA is also pre-staging Temporary Housing Units (THUs) for possible use in New York and New Jersey, in the event that the units are requested by the states. Manufactured housing (i.e. temporary housing units) may be provided, at the request of the state, as the option of last resort in areas with limited available rental resources. These manufactured homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are built to the same strong standards as millions of manufactured housing units being lived in across the nation and that consumers across the country can purchase. FEMA is not a manufacturer of housing units; rather, it is a purchaser of manufactured homes. Manufacturers are required, at a minimum, to meet the standards identified in the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Standard, 24 CFR 3280 Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. To date, State-led Housing Task Forces continue to review various housing options, and there have been no requests by New Jersey or New York for use of manufactured housing (temporary housing units).
The first step to receive housing assistance is by registering for disaster assistance. To register for assistance by phone, please call toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA, or 1-800-621-3362. Disaster applicants who have a hearing or speech disability and use voice relay telecommunications services can also contact FEMA through the main toll-free number at 1-800-621-3362. Disaster applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss but use a TTY device, should instead call 1-800-462-7585 directly. An easy, online registration process also remains available anytime at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by using your web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. You can also visit a disaster recovery center, where you can talk with someone who can help determine the best course of action for recovery and available assistance programs.