LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- People receiving disaster assistance as a result of losses from Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita must use the money according to instructions provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The initial $2,000 in expedited assistance was granted to hurricane victims for housing or other essential disaster-related needs. Any other FEMA assistance will be granted for a specific purpose, such as home repair or rental assistance.
Rental assistance is for homeowners or renters whose homes were destroyed or substantially damaged, so they have a place to live while repairs are being made. Minimal repair grants are available to homeowners to make their residence livable until more extensive repairs can be made.
Applicants receive a letter indicating how their grant money should be spent. Recipients of these funds should always keep the receipts for three years. They are required to sign a declaration and a release certifying all funds will be spent on the expenses for which they are intended.
If the recipient receives money from insurance policies to cover the same expense, the FEMA disaster money must be returned. Random audits may be made to confirm funds were spent properly.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.