FEMA Checks to Assist La. Residents in Solving Housing Needs

January 16, 2006

With more than $4 billion in disaster housing funds issued to approximately 834,000 hurricane victims, state and federal officials advise recipients to take advantage of housing checks received from FEMA to solve their housing needs.

Under the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines, a housing assistance check can be used for rental assistance, basic housing repairs, reimbursement of hotel/motel expenses or replacement.

Short-term rental assistance is based on the average fair-market rental rates. An applicant who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period than the check covers may request more assistance until the individual’s home can be reoccupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made. Receipts for additional rental assistance will be required.

Repair assistance is intended to return the home to a safe, sanitary and functional condition. Reimbursement for hotel or motel expenses is for out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the disaster. Receipts for these expenses will also be requested.

Replacement assistance offers a limited amount of money to help replace a disaster-destroyed home.

In addition to the check, an applicant receives a letter indicating how the grant money should be spent. FEMA urges all applicants to use the assistance provided for its intended use. Failure to use the tax-free money as specified may cause FEMA to recoup the money.

Applicants should call the FEMA Helpline with any questions or for more information at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for speech- or hearing-impaired individuals.

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