BISMARCK, N.D. – Anyone who receives temporary housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and continues to have a housing need, must fill out an important form for additional short-term rental assistance in order to remain eligible.
FEMA mails all applicants who receive temporary rental assistance the “Declaration for Continuing Need for Rental Assistance” letter. It reaffirms that applicants have an ongoing need for temporary housing while they search for a permanent place to live. FEMA’s toll-free Helpline 800-621-FEMA (3362) can arrange for a replacement form if the original is lost.
This form is mailed 15 days after applicants receive their initial rental assistance grant. Applicants who continue to need rental assistance must express an interest either verbally through the Helpline or in writing within 90 days, and complete the entire process within 120 days to be eligible. A new 90 and 120-day limit will begin with each rental recertification, and a new Declaration letter needs to be filled out each cycle.
Documents required for both owners and renters include the completed Declaration letter; a copy of the current lease or rental agreement signed by the applicant; rental receipts, cancelled checks or money orders showing proper usage of previous rental assistance; and current income statements for family members living in the rental. The form must be completed in full and turned in on time each rental cycle to apply for continued assistance.
FEMA will evaluate the information each cycle to determine if the applicant qualifies for ongoing federal rental assistance, based on financial need. An applicant’s current monthly rent is compared to the person’s housing costs before the disaster. Income for all household members, ongoing homeowner mortgage, insurance and utility costs for the damaged home, and other housing commitment costs are all taken into consideration when determining continued eligibility.
The amount of continued rental assistance is determined using Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Fair Market Rent (FMR). The FMR amount is based on the applicant’s bedroom requirement and the current rental location. This amount will be paid even if the actual rent amount paid is less.
FEMA housing assistance only lasts for up to 18 months from the date of the Disaster Declaration, which was on May 10. So it is important for survivors to develop a permanent housing plan. Returning to a permanent home within a reasonable timeframe is a significant milestone on the road to recovery.
Applicants temporarily living in FEMA-provided manufactured housing units will be visited by a FEMA specialist starting approximately 45 days after moving into the unit. The visits will continue every 30-60 days as long as the applicant occupies the unit. All applicants who occupy a Temporary Housing Unit are required to develop a permanent housing plan toward which they must show progress during the visit. A FEMA specialist will work with each individual occupant to document that progress.
Questions about temporary housing assistance can be answered by calling FEMA’s toll-free helpline 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY: 800-462-7585. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and multilingual assistance is available.