Types of Federal Assistance
Federal assistance for homeowners and renters
The Individuals and Households Program offers grants, managed by FEMA and the Commonwealth of Virginia, in two categories: Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance.
Housing Assistance - Rental
Homeowners or renters may qualify for this aid, which provides an alternate living arrangement if a primary residence is uninhabitable and insurance does not cover this expense. Approved applicants are certified for an initial time period and then must present justification to FEMA for additional periods of rental assistance.
Housing Assistance – FEMA Housing Unit
When there are not enough rental properties available in an area, FEMA may provide a housing unit. Although housing units are most often made available to homeowners, renters may also receive units. Housing units may be placed on a homeowner’s land, provided certain conditions are met. In large disasters, group sites may have to be developed.
Housing Assistance – Minimal Repair Assistance
The sole purpose of housing repair assistance is to return an unlivable primary residence to a state of repair that will allow it to be safely occupied. Please note that this is a very limited goal. Past disaster experience indicates that homeowners may have more expansive rebuilding goals that are beyond what a repair grant will cover. For example, a storm may have torn a hole in the roof of a house. FEMA housing assistance would focus on a grant that would repair the hole in the roof, although a homeowner might want to replace the entire roof because the roof is near the end of its useful life. Financial assistance for repair expenses beyond what home repair grants will cover may come from low interest loans provided by the Small Business Administration to homeowners.
Other Needs Assistance:
Other Needs Assistance provides aid to homeowners and renters to cover losses such as major appliances and household furnishings. Losses covered by insurance are not eligible.
FEMA uses its own method to determine the value of losses. Although major appliances are valued item by item, the value of household furnishings is based on the level of damage to an entire room. In addition, this assistance most often will not cover what it originally cost to furnish the room. Only the following rooms are considered for possible disaster grant assistance: kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, occupied bedrooms, and bathrooms.
Some other major areas for which disaster assistance might be paid are:
- Funeral expenses;
- Personal vehicles that were damaged or destroyed as a result of the disaster;
- Disaster related medical expenses.
Non-essential items, such as antiques, hobby collections, electronic gaming systems and home entertainment systems will not be reimbursed at any level.
How much dollar assistance is available?
The U.S. Congress annually sets a cap for the maximum grant assistance available to individuals and households under IHP for all assistance categories. The cap is currently $31,400, and it changes every Oct. 1. Grant awards usually average far less than the maximum allowed by law, though applicants may apply for a low interest loans through the Small Business Administration to supplement grant assistance.
If the Individuals and Households Program is available in your area, then Small Business Administration loans are also available.