FEMA INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS PROGRAM (IHP):
INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS AND CULTURAL WORKERS
IN NEED OF HOUSING ASSISTANCE
When you visit DisasterAssistance.gov, the website will recommend several programs that may assist you after a disaster. If you have housing and other unmet needs, it may point you to resources in FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. The IHP program subdivides into Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance
(ONA). You will only need to create one account with FEMA that you can use to access multiple sources of support. You will be asked to submit different kinds of documentation to determine eligibility for Housing Assistance as well as Other Needs Assistance. In this guide, we have separated out these two funding sources to make clear what each source covers.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
After a presidentially declared disaster, FEMA’s Individual and Households Program: Housing Assistance provides financial and direct services to disaster survivors when their primary residence has been damaged or destroyed. FEMA Housing Assistance is only available to cover costs not covered by insurance. The following types of housing assistance may be available to you if your housing has been affected by a disaster:
TEMPORARY HOUSING ASSISTANCE
Financial assistance to homeowners or renters to rent a temporary place to live if your home is unlivable because of the disaster. If there are no rental properties available, as a last resort, FEMA may provide a housing unit, such as a mobile home, travel trailer, or apartment, for your temporary housing needs.
PERMANENT HOUSING CONSTRUCTION
Direct or financial assistance to homeowners for the construction or repair of a home. This type of help occurs only in certain unique cases where no other type of housing assistance is possible.
LODGING EXPENSES REIMBURSEMENT
Reimbursement of hotel expenses for home-owners or renters for short periods of time if your home is unlivable, inaccessible, or one or more of your essential utilities (water, sewer, electricity, gas) is not functional due to the disaster.
Financial assistance to homeowners to repair disaster-caused damage to your primary residence, to make the home safe, sanitary, and fit to occupy.
Financial assistance to homeowners to help replace your home if it was destroyed in the disaster.
According to FEMA, “... assistance is not a substitute for insurance and cannot compensate for all losses caused by a disaster. The assistance is intended to meet your basic needs and supplement disaster recovery efforts.” FEMA will not restore your home to its pre-disaster state. FEMA will only cover costs not covered by insurance settlements.
FEMA’s Housing Assistance process attempts to be as streamlined as possible to meet the immediate needs for shelter after a disaster. FEMA Individuals and Households Program has one application process that includes Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance.
Application: You can register to apply for FEMA disaster assistance through the online portal at DisasterAssistance.gov, via FEMA’s free mobile app, by calling FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362, or at a Disaster Recovery Center. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a Text Telephone (TTY), you can call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), you can call 800-621-3362.
Inspection: Once you apply for assistance, FEMA will verify your losses to determine if you are eligible for assistance. FEMA may verify your losses by sending an inspector to your home, using technology such as geospatial inspections, or by reviewing documentation you provide. If you have insurance, FEMA may only provide assistance if your needs are not met by your insurance company. FEMA inspections are always free. Do not pay a fee for someone to inspect your damages.
Funding: If you are eligible, FEMA can provide funds to you either via check or electronic funds transfer directly to your bank.
IMPORTANT TIME-SENSITIVE STEPS
Application Deadline: 60 days of the presidential declaration
Documentation: Take photos of your damages and keep all receipts associated with the above expenses
Preparedness tip: It is extremely useful to have images of your home and belongings before a disaster occurs, for insurance and damage validation purposes. Consider saving your files to Cloud storage in case your device gets lost or damaged.
DECISION POINT 1
IS THE PROGRAM LIKELY TO BE RELEVANT TO MY SITUATION?
Has there been a presidential declaration of emergency or disaster?
Has it been less than 60 days since the declaration?
Was your primary residence damaged by the disaster?
Do you need temporary housing, shelter, and/or financial assistance to repair your primary residence to be safe and sanitary?
Did the damage to your housing occur within the declared incident period?
Is your housing in the official designated area?
Are you or someone in your household, including a minor child, a U.S.
citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien?
If you have insurance, have you filed an insurance claim?
WHAT YOU NEED TO APPLY
To apply for FEMA Housing Assistance you need:
Your Social Security number (SSN) OR the SSN of a minor child in the household who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien
Total annual household income before taxes
Contact information (phone number, mailing address, email address, and damaged home address)
Insurance information (coverage, insurance company name, etc.)
Bank account information (If you are eligible to receive financial assistance, the money can be deposited directly into your account.)
In some disasters, the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides funds in impacted areas that may be regranted to assist with housing.
DECISION POINT 2
IS IT WORTH MY TIME AND EFFORT TO APPLY?
FEMA Housing Assistance is intended to help if your housing is damaged or destroyed as the result of a declared emergency or disaster. If you have no insurance, FEMA Housing Assistance could make a dramatic difference. However, it will not fully restore your residence to pre-disaster condition. If you have homeowners, renters, or other types of insurance that will cover costs associated with temporary housing and/or repairing and replacing your home, FEMA may only provide Housing Assistance after you’ve exhausted your other options.
RENTERS AND/OR ROOMMATES
If you live with roommates or non-family members, you will be provided FEMA Housing Assistance as one household. If the assistance provided to the household is not shared, or if the new residence is too small or causes undue hardship, members of the household may request assistance separate from their pre-disaster household.
If you have insurance, you will have to provide thorough documentation that some or all of your costs have been denied by your insurance company.
PROOF OF OCCUPANCY
FEMA typically verifies occupancy through an automated public records check. Documents acceptable to provide proof of occupancy include utility bills, a bank or credit card statement, phone bills, pay stubs, a lease or housing agreement, rent receipts, or a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or voter registration card showing the damaged dwelling’s address. Most of these documents must be dated within three months prior to the incident period of the disaster.
To qualify for assistance from FEMA’s
Individuals and Households Program (IHP), you or a member of your household must be a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien with a green card. Adults who don’t qualify under one of these three categories, including individuals who are undocumented, can apply on behalf of a minor child who does qualify and has a Social Security number.
FEMA will not cover the costs of business property damages. If you are an artist or arts organization operating out of your house and file taxes based on income you are making from working in a home studio, damages to that portion of your house and its contents are not eligible for Housing Assistance. You must instead apply for an SBA Business Disaster Loan for those specific damages.
REPORTING AND REPAYMENT
FEMA Housing Assistance grants are tax free and do not need to be repaid. However, if you use FEMA funds while waiting for an insurance settlement, any FEMA money issued to you will be considered an advance that must be repaid when your insurance claim is settled.
Since FEMA Housing Assistance is limited to helping people with essential needs, most disaster help from the federal government is through low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You must repay those loans.
What can I spend Housing Assistance money on?
Housing Assistance can be used to rent another place to live, make repairs to your home, or go toward replacing your home if it was destroyed by the disaster. Disaster grants should not be used for travel, entertainment, regular living expenses, or any discretionary expenses not related to housing loss due to the disaster. If you receive FEMA assistance, you should keep receipts that document how you spent FEMA grants for three years.
What kind of documentation do I need?
As an applicant, you may need to provide proof of occupancy, ownership, income loss, and/or information concerning your housing situation prior to the disaster. You should keep all receipts and records for any housing expenses incurred as a result of the disaster. This includes receipts for repair supplies, labor, and rent payments.
What happens after a FEMA inspection?
After applying for assistance, you will receive a letter regarding your application status. Some applicants may receive a text message or email if they have signed up for those services. Many times, applicants will need to submit extra documents for FEMA to process their application. Do not be discouraged if you get a letter saying you need to provide additional information in order to be eligible for assistance.
Can I put FEMA funds toward my deductible?
FEMA funds cannot be used for homeowners or renters insurance deductibles.
What if I apply but don't get the amount of support I think I'm eligible for?
Everyone has the right to appeal a decision. An administrative issue might have caused a problem with your application. If you feel the amount or type of assistance is incorrect, submit a signed, written explanation describing why you believe FEMA’s decision is incorrect and copies of any documents supporting your appeal, including proof of your disaster losses. You must submit your appeal within 60 days of the date on your determination letter.