DENVER - More than $41 million in federal disaster relief already is in the hands of Colorado survivors rebuilding after recent severe weather. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds those receiving grant payments to spend wisely. Survivors should only use Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance grants to meet specific disaster-related needs.
Housing Assistance grants are intended for basic housing repairs, including repairs to a septic system or private well. Housing Assistance grants also may be used for short-term rent payments or reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses.
Other Needs Assistance grants are intended to help replace essential personal property and meet disaster-related medical, dental and funeral expenses. The money also may be used to repair or replace a car damaged by the disaster and to replace work-related tools.
Most FEMA disaster grants are deposited electronically. Then the deposit is followed by a letter which explains how the money should be spent.
If grant money is not used as outlined in the letter, a recipient may have to pay the money back and may lose eligibility for any further help. FEMA grants should not be used for luxury goods such as flat-screen televisions, video games or other entertainment electronics. Grants may be audited, so survivors should keep receipts for three years to document disaster-related expenses.
The first step toward obtaining recovery assistance is to register with FEMA:
Register with FEMA by phone: 800-621-3362. Multilingual phone operators are available on the FEMA helpline. Choose Option 2 for Spanish and Option 3 for other languages.
People who have a speech disability or are deaf or hard of hearing may call (TTY) 800-462-7585; users of 711 or Video Relay Service can call 800-621-3362.
Register online: DisasterAssistance.gov.
Register by Web-enabled device, tablet or smartphone: type m.fema.gov in the browser.
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 800-621-3362. For TTY, call 800-462-7585.
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 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.