Types of Federal Assistance

Types of federal assistance

The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) offers grants in two categories: Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance.

Housing Assistance


  • For homeowners or renters.
  • Assistance helps pay for an alternate living arrangement if 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.

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.

Minimal Repair Assistance

  • Sole purpose 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

  • 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.  
  • 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 in 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. 

Small Business Administration 

  • Offers special low-interest disaster loans to individuals, families and businesses who have suffered disaster-related losses.
  • Available when there is a federal disaster declaration and the president approves the Individuals and Households Program for the affected area.

How much dollar assistance is available?

The U.S. Congress annually sets a cap for the maximum grant assistance available to individuals and households.  The cap changes every Oct. 1.  Grant awards usually average far less than the maximum allowed by law, though applicants may apply for a low-interest loan 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.

While some money is available through IHP, most disaster aid from the federal government is in the form of loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) that must be repaid.  Applicants to IHP may be required to seek help from SBA first, before being considered for certain types of IHP help.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund