Bismarck, N.D. - State and federal disaster assistance is bringing needed financial help to homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered damage or loss as a result of the floods that began February 14. Emergency management officials urge recipients to use disaster funds widely and for their intended purpose.
Funds are available through grants for housing and other needs and through low-interest federal loans for repair or replacement of primary homes, personal property and business recovery.
Housing assistance grants must be used only for:
- Short-term rental assistance,
- Reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses,
- Basic housing repairs for homeowners who are able to get to their homes.
Other Needs Assistance grants should be used to help replace essential personal property and meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable-aid programs. Most funds are deposited electronically and followed by a letter in the mail explaining how the money is to be used.
Here are tips to help you get the most out of your personal disaster recovery payments:
- Keep all of your receipts.
- If you receive your grant in the form of a check, make sure to safeguard those funds and spend the money only on disaster-related expenses.
- Don't be tempted to pay household bills with disaster recovery payments.
- Don't use disaster recovery payments to make purchases unrelated to needs created by the disaster.
Disaster grants are subject to an audit and recipients should keep receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how all funds were used in meeting disaster-related needs. These grants are tax free and are not a loan. They do not have to be repaid. They are not counted as income for welfare or other federal benefit programs and they cannot be garnished.
In addition to the grants available through FEMA, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also are available to homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations of all sizes.
FEMA's housing assistance and grants for disaster-related medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to the SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.
Completing an SBA loan application does not commit applicants to take the loan if it is offered, but applying for the loan is an important part of the federal financial disaster assistance process.
Federal disaster assistance is available to renters, homeowners and businesses in Burleigh, McHenry, Morton, Renville and Ward counties.