Frequently Asked Questions About Disasters

This page offers answers to frequently asked questions about Individual Assistance for disaster survivors.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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Does FEMA offer help with short-term lodging while I look for a permanent place to live?

Displaced renters who need a safe place to stay while they look for longer-term housing may be eligible for short-term hotel stays paid by FEMA under its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program. Applicants cannot request TSA, but FEMA will identify survivors who may be eligible and have a need for this specific assistance. FEMA will communicate TSA eligibility through a variety of methods including voice; text; and email.

The list of participating hotels will be posted on DisasterAssistance.gov under the link Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program or you can get it by calling the FEMA helpline 

What other types of help are available for displaced survivors?

Renters may be eligible for grants from FEMA to help with disaster-related expenses, such as:

  • Renting a home when the renter’s previous one is unsafe to live in due to the disaster or their apartment complex or home is under repair
  • Disaster-related medical and dental expenses
  • Child-care assistance
  • Moving and storage fees
  • Replacement or repair of necessary personal property lost or damaged in the disaster, such as appliances and furniture, textbooks and computers used by students, and work equipment or tools used by independent contractors
  •  Repair or replacement of vehicles damaged by the disaster
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses

I was receiving rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and was displaced due to federally declared disaster. Do I qualify for FEMA disaster assistance?

FEMA cannot duplicate types of assistance received from another agency. However, if you were forced to leave your HUD-assisted housing because of damage caused by federally declared disaster, you may be eligible for help from FEMA. This includes displaced families or residents who were:

  • Living in HUD-assisted public housing
  • Living in a privately-owned apartment that provides rental assistance from HUD
  • Living in a private home using a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher from a housing authority
What type of help is available for HUD-assisted renters?

If you received Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance, you may be eligible for temporary rental assistance to pay for a place to live until:

  • You relocate back to public housing;
  • You relocate back to the private housing that provides HUD assistance; or
  • You sign a lease with a private property owner using a Section 8 voucher.

Assistance also includes grants to replace essential contents, such as clothing and essential household items, and reimburse you for serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate types of assistance received from another agency.

Where can I find information on renter’s rights and guidance related to evictions?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides some guidance on renter's rights. Additional help may be available by calling the toll-free legal aid hotline at (800) 310-7029.

Where can I upload my lodging receipts?

Applicants can upload their receipts online to their DisasterAssistance.gov account. All documents should include the registration and disaster number. Download instructions on how to upload your documents. This information is available in multiple languages.

Survivors can also submit through standard mail at: P.O. Box 10055  Attn: FEMA  Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055 

Or Fax 1-800-827-8112 (Cover sheet required)

Is Lodging Expense Reimbursement (LER) the same as rental assistance?

No. LER, Lodging Expense Reimbursement, is reimbursement for out-of-pocket lodging expenses (lodging and tax) that are not covered by insurance benefits like additional living expenses or loss of use.

Rental assistance is money that can be used to pay for another place to live or stay while a survivor is unable to live in their primary home. Rental assistance is provided directly to the eligible homeowner or renter. The rental awards are based on Fair Market Rent rates that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development identifies for a particular housing area.

Is temporary rental assistance available for renters as well as homeowners?

Financial assistance is available to homeowners or renters to rent a temporary place to live if your home is unlivable because of the disaster, and you have no insurance coverage for temporary housing. If there are no rental properties are available, as a last resort, a government housing unit may be provided in some areas.

Does FEMA look at other criteria before they make their decision on temporary rental assistance?

Yes. If your FEMA application shows your primary residence sustained damage in the storm, a FEMA inspector will contact you to assess the level of damage. Based on the assessment, FEMA will determine if you qualify for an initial award of up to two months of rental assistance.

What type of housing will I be able to move into?

If you qualify for temporary rental assistance, FEMA will refer you to properties such as a house, apartment, hotel or motel room that are available for rent.

Last updated September 27, 2022