New York, NY -- More than fifteen months after the attack on the World Trade Center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to provide federal assistance to individuals and families affected by the disaster. To date, over $330 million has been approved through FEMA individual assistance programs.
More than 10,000 households have qualified for FEMA's Mortgage and Rental Assistance (MRA) program to date, receiving more than $84,000,000 in grants. The MRA program provides help with rent or mortgage payments for those who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the World Trade Center attack.
Individuals and families may qualify for the MRA program if they lived or worked in Manhattan on or before September 11, 2001, or were employed by a company economically dependent on companies based in Manhattan. As such, the program has helped households located in New York City and surrounding areas.
Additional eligibility criteria include the loss of at least 25 percent of the total household income after September 11, the inability to pay rent or mortgage, and impending eviction or foreclosure due to the loss of income. In addition, the Welfare Reform Act requires that an applicant or a family member in the applicant's household be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien in order to receive MRA.
"Disaster assistance such as the MRA program is intended to help families recover from the effects of the attack on the World Trade Center," said FEMA Federal Recovery Officer Brad Gair. "FEMA is still here, and although our authority does not permit us to help everyone affected by the general downturn in the economy following September 11, our MRA program does stand ready to assist those in danger of losing their home through foreclosure or eviction as a result of the attack."
While five weeks remain for new applicants to take the first step and register for MRA, recovery officials with FEMA reiterated that many recipients of the aid program may be eligible to receive MRA benefits well into 2004. The program, which works to help those facing foreclosure or eviction, may provide up to 18 months of assistance for qualified applicants, so those applying before the January 31, 2003, registration deadline could qualify for help through July 2004.
"Residents looking for help with their rent or mortgage only need to make their first call to FEMA by January 31, 2003," said Gair. "We urge those seeking this type of aid to call us immediately at 1-800-462-9029. Once an applicant has been approved for MRA assistance, the household may be eligible for up to 18 months, depending on their situation during that timeframe."
As part of the agency's ongoing effort to promote its assistance programs, FEMA will begin another advertising campaign in mainstream daily and community papers beginning immediately after the holidays. The advertising campaign, which will feature ads in numerous languages in more than 40 publications, is in addition to traditional and non-traditional outreach strategies that FEMA has employed following the attack to notify affected individuals of assistance programs available.
FEMA has conducted a full-scale outreach campaign that includes working with print, broadcast and web based media on stories related to the assistance programs, distribution of print, radio and television public service announcements produced by the Ad Council, and paid advertisements in mainstream as well as community and ethnic papers. In addition, FEMA's community relations teams fanned out across lower Manhattan in the weeks immediately following the attack, going door-to-door and attending community meetings.
FEMA produced and distributed two issues of its disaster assistance guide in multiple languages, working with transit authorities and multili...