SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that additional benefits will be available to help people in seven California counties affected by last December's severe freeze. The additional program, administered by FEMA in close coordination with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, will include mortgage and rental assistance (MRA) designed to prevent the eviction of homeowners or renters because of income loss related to the severe freeze of Dec. 20 - 28.
Mortgage and rental assistance is part of FEMA's temporary disaster housing program and can provide rent or mortgage payments for the duration of the disaster's impact on income or eighteen (18) months, whichever is less. Applicants have six months from the date of declaration to apply for MRA. Starting on March 8, FEMA will be prepared to accept applications for this important program through FEMA's teleregistration number.
MRA eligibility is determined by several considerations, but by streamlining the program, FEMA plans to render assistance as quickly and efficiently as possible to those who face eviction or foreclosure of a mortgage. FEMA has worked to more clearly define the financial hardships that establish victim's eligibility for MRA and has reduced the documentation needed to establish that eligibility thus making the program more friendly to disaster victims while expediting assistance delivery.
FEMA is establishing a special MRA processing unit at the National Processing Service Center to handle all MRA applications. A caseworker will be assigned to each application and will assist the disaster victim in completing required forms and obtaining required documents.
In addition, teams of FEMA Individual Assistance staff will be on scene in each county designated eligible for MRA and will schedule visits to each State Service Center to answer questions and ensure awareness of the program's availability and stipulations.
The seven California counties now designated disaster areas after last December's freeze include Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey and Tulare.