NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A month after severe storms and tornadoes hit Tennessee, federal, state and local officials continue to seek all available housing assistance options for dislocated residents.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials view housing as the No. 1 priority in the disaster recovery.
"FEMA and state housing staffs are working together to find rental resources within or close to the communities of residents who were displaced from their primary homes," said Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech. "Ideally, we want families to be able to live near their schools and jobs."
Landlords with available rental properties can call (800) 621-3362 and press the Helpline option.
Community relations staff, inspectors and FEMA housing assistance workers in the disaster area scour local newspapers for rental listings and look for "for rent" signs in intact neighborhoods. They also search the Internet and talk to local housing authorities and public-sector property managers. Local Chambers of Commerce are also contacted.
The results are incorporated into a list of possible rental resources, which includes apartments, condominiums, rental houses and privately owned mobile home parks.
"We want to help Tennesseans dislocated by the tornadoes find suitable rental properties in the local area," said TEMA Director James Bassham. "Moving into an existing house or apartment allows a family to quickly re-establish their home life and helps the economy."
The first step for residents to receive temporary housing assistance is to register with FEMA by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or TTY (800) 462-7585 for callers with speech or hearing impairments. Residents may also register anytime online at www.fema.gov. Applicants who may qualify for FEMA housing will be contacted for a pre-placement interview.
Residents of Benton, Fayette, Hardin, Hickman, Houston, Lewis, Macon, Madison, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Trousdale, Sumner and Williamson counties are eligible to apply for federal assistance under President Bush's Feb. 7 disaster declaration.
FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, an applicant must complete an SBA loan application to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
All FEMA assistance is subject to eligibility criteria and may vary from disaster to disaster. SBA eligibility criteria are applied to all applicants. Applicants who do not qualify for an SBA loan are reviewed for grant assistance in compliance with the limits established by the state.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal Rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 800-323-8603.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.