INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Since the president's disaster declaration of Sept. 23 designating the county a federal disaster area, 12,009 Lake County residents have applied to FEMA for assistance.? To date, nearly $7 million in grants has been approved to aid more than 2050 eligible applicants whose claims have already been approved.? These grants cover temporary housing costs, home repair expenses and funds for other eligible serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.?
Following the disaster, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCD) was able to provide 250 hotel vouchers to those who applied for assistance with accommodations at that time.? Though the large majority of people in hotels and motels have applied to FEMA for housing assistance, approximately 50 have yet to apply. ?FEMA, the state and many volunteer agencies have made repeated attempts to contact these people in order to assist with their housing needs.? Because the ICHD vouchers expire this coming Monday, Oct. 13, it is imperative that these individuals apply to FEMA if they need assistance with immediate housing.
"A plan for medium-term housing is coming into quick focus," said Steve DeBlasio, head of recovery efforts for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).? "We've asked all residents housed under the state's Emergency Voucher Program to apply for FEMA assistance, and we have had success identifying rental resources and other services for many of these families."
"Help Us Help You" is the message that FEMA now has for those families still needing housing assistance.? Each family participating in the voucher program who applied for FEMA help has been assigned an Application Assistant to serve as a single point of contact while their application moves forward. In addition, teams of FEMA community relations workers have provided literature and met disaster-affected families and individuals throughout Lake County explaining disaster assistance programs and urging them to apply to FEMA for help.
DeBlasio said FEMA has identified more than a thousand available rental units.? Each family requiring housing after Oct. 13 will be given a list of three units that match their needs.
Meanwhile, a number of state and local agencies and organizations are pitching in to help those still residing in hotels.? The Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the North Township Trustee office, the Hope Crisis Response Network, The Salvation Army, the Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are all lending a hand.? Northwest Indiana Community Action encourages anyone in hotels with questions or concerns about housing beyond Oct. 13 to call 211 locally to be linked to those who can help.? If that line is busy, people can call 1-800-826-7871 and ask for "Information."
"We've laid the groundwork to help these hard-hit families," said DeBlasio, who reminded families in Lake County with property damages from September storms to apply for help from FEMA online at www.fema.gov, by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for those a with speech or hearing impairment.
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.