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Use Caution When Spending FEMA Disaster Housing Money

Release date: 
October 17, 2011
Release Number: 

SAN JUAN, PR -- Survivors receiving housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are strongly advised to use their money wisely. As of today, FEMA and the Government of Puerto Rico have disbursed $23.3 million in disaster assistance to help survivors affected by Hurricane Irene.

Distributed via check or direct deposit, housing funds are intended to help residents meet basic disaster housing related needs and begin rebuilding their lives. Every recipient receives a letter that provides important information about the grant and outlines how the money should be spent.

Housing funds may be used for:

  • Repairs to return the home to a safe and functional condition: These may include repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems, or other structural parts of a home;
  • Reimbursement for hotel or motel lodging expenses directly related to the disaster: Receipts for these expenses will be requested if the home sustained damages;
  • Rental assistance: Applicants who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period than the initial assistance covers may request additional assistance until their home can be re-occupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made; or
  • Rebuilding a home that has been completely destroyed.

Grants may be subject to an audit, if an applicant spends the payment on anything other than the purpose for which it is intended, no additional assistance may be granted if the need arises in the future. Survivors are encouraged to fully document their disaster-related expenses and keep their receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how the money was used.

Survivors should call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to apply for disaster assistance for those with hearing and speech disabilities call (TTY) 800-462-7585, through the internet at, or via mobile phone application at

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and  first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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