How Public Assistance is Different Than Individual Assistance

Release Date:
April 2, 2024

The Federal Emergency Management Agency may provide two types of assistance following a presidential disaster declaration: Public Assistance and Individual Assistance. Both programs are independent from each other. 

Public Assistance provides supplemental grants to state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, and certain types of private non-profits so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. 

  • Federal funding is available to eligible entities including state governments, local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations, such as schools, hospitals, houses of worship, and public utility districts.
  • Although funds are awarded to government entities and certain private nonprofits, the Public Assistance program is intended to benefit the public — neighborhoods, cities, counties, and states. 
  • Public Assistance dollars pay to:
    • clean up disaster-related debris,
    • repair roads and bridges,
    • put utilities and water systems back in order,
    • restore buildings and equipment such as schools, hospitals, and places that provide community services.
  • The program also encourages protection of damaged facilities from future incidents by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures.
  • Learn more about FEMA’s Public Assistance program at

Individual Assistance provides direct financial assistance to eligible individuals and families who have sustained losses due to disasters.

  • Individuals and households in counties approved for Individual Assistance with uninsured expenses and serious needs may apply for disaster assistance.
  • Individual Assistance is intended to meet survivors’ basic needs and supplement disaster recovery efforts, to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured personal property losses, and medical, dental, and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other serious disaster-related expenses.
  • Learn more about FEMA’s Individual Assistance program at

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