LITTLE ROCK , Ark. -- The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reminding hurricane victims that have not already registered for FEMA assistance programs to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) -- TTY 1-800-462-7585 -- or go online at www.fema.gov . The agency's call centers continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days-a-week.
Registration is the first step in the federal assistance process, and by calling, those affected by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita can apply for housing and other recovery assistance grants. Hurricane victims seeking federal temporary housing assistance do not need to complete a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application to be considered for such assistance.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance is available to applicants displaced from their pre-disaster primary residence or whose residence has been rendered uninhabitable as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina or Rita. Assistance is contingent on an applicant's insurance coverage and whether it provides for housing needs. But in no case is an SBA loan application required for temporary housing assistance.
"It's important that individuals and families impacted by the hurricanes know that help is available," said Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison. "We want to make sure that those who need help aren't self-determining whether or not they would be eligible for assistance, and that they understand that they may be eligible for FEMA housing assistance grants."
To date, FEMA has provided more than $6 billion in housing or financial assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with more than 1.5 million hurricane victims receiving FEMA assistance. Also , more than 750,000 households have received either rental assistance to lease an apartment or home or direct housing assistance such as travel trailers or mobile homes.
Eligibility determinations for applicants requesting FEMA's temporary housing assistance will not be held up because the applicant has or has not filled out an SBA loan application, or has filled out such an application incorrectly. FEMA will process applications for housing assistance regardless of whether the applicant has applied for an SBA loan.
An applicant must complete an SBA loan application to be eligible for assistance under the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. Even so, applicants who do not meet a certain income threshold may be excused from this requirement. In addition, there are other ONA grants such as medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses that do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan to be eligible.
For more information on FEMA assistance programs, visit www.fema.gov.
FEMA 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.