Santa Fe, NM -- The first checks from the Individual and Family Grant Program-which helps pay the costs of disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other programs-have been sent to victims of the New Mexico fires, according to disaster recovery officials.
Seventy-eight checks, totaling $229,969, went out Friday, June 9, with the average check issued at $2,500.
"The amount of the grant depends on the unmet needs of the applicant," said Bill Ewing, deputy state coordinating officer of the New Mexico Office of Emergency Management. "The maximum grant is $13,900."
Grants may be used to cover disaster-related expenses such as essential home repairs, replacement of personal property, clothing, household items, furnishings and appliances, transportation, or the rental of equipment. They may also be used for items such as medical and dental bills, funeral expenses and disaster debris removal.
In most cases, grants are only available if an applicant has been denied a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Applicants who are issued an SBA loan application must complete the form and turn it in if they want to be considered for a grant. If the SBA determines that an applicant cannot afford a disaster loan, they will then be considered for the grant program.
The state administers the program based on national eligibility criteria. The Federal Emergency Management Agency funds 75 percent of the costs with the remaining 25 percent coming from the state. The grants do not have to be repaid, but grant recipients must keep their receipts.
The grant program is one of many assistance programs triggered by the major disaster declaration which President Clinton issued May 13 at the request of Governor Gary Johnson. Disaster victims do not directly apply for grants, but must begin the process by registering for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585).