BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Homeowners who cannot live in their disaster-damaged homes and have used up their initial two months of rental assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be eligible for additional rental assistance. In all, FEMA may provide up to 18 months of rental assistance during repairs to a disaster-damaged home.
To date, FEMA has approved $2.3 million in rental assistance for 1,332 individuals and families – both homeowners and renters – who lost their housing due to Tropical Storm Irene. These initial grants cover two months of rent for a temporary place to live until people affected by this disaster can get back into permanent housing.
Those who need more than two months of rental assistance must apply to FEMA for recertification. Recertification reviews allow FEMA to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars by requiring applicants to demonstrate they have a continuing need for temporary housing.
In general, FEMA recertifies homeowners when repairs to their disaster-damaged homes are not completed or when they have been unable to find permanent replacement housing if their homes were destroyed.
Renters are typically expected to locate a new rental after two months of temporary rental assistance, but each situation is evaluated individually and renters, too, may be recertified for additional rental assistance.
For anyone who has received FEMA’s maximum grant of $30,200, the amounts provided for rental assistance will be subtracted from the $30,200, leaving less money for rebuilding.
FEMA notifies all applicants by mail who received the initial two months of rental assistance and includes a form to use if they need to request assistance for additional months. The form must be completed and submitted according to the timetable FEMA provides in its letter about rental assistance. The following documents must be submitted along with the form:
- The letter from FEMA notifying the individual of eligibility for rental assistance which must include the person’s unique FEMA registration number;
- A copy of a lease agreement signed by the applicant and the applicant’s landlord;
- Rent receipts showing that the initial rental assistance grant was used to pay rent after Tropical Storm Irene, which began on Aug. 27;
- A current income statement, such as a paycheck stub or bank statement.
Lease agreements with family members or receipts from family members for rental payments are NOT acceptable for recertification.
FEMA evaluates the information to determine if the applicant qualifies for continued federal rental assistance, based on financial need. FEMA compares applicants’ current monthly rent to housing costs before the disaster. It considers income for all household members, ongoing homeowner mortgage, insurance and utility costs for the damaged home, and other housing commitments.
Anyone who needs answers to questions about recertification may call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 for those with speech and hearing disabilities 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS). The helpline operates seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and assistance is available in all languages.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585; or call 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS).
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, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must sub...