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FEMA Applications

If you have been affected by a federally declared disaster, you may qualify for disaster assistance through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. You should apply to FEMA as soon after the disaster as possible, and generally, you must apply within 60 days of the disaster.

FEMA can provide money for home repairs; temporary rental assistance; medical, dental and funeral expenses; vehicle repair or replacement; repair or replacement of essential household items; and other essential expenses related to the disaster.

To apply for FEMA assistance, you can:

  • Go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Call 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • Apply in person at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center

FEMA will send you a letter either approving or denying your request. If you are approved, FEMA will send you a letter explaining the purpose of the money. It is important that you only use FEMA money for its intended purpose. For instance, if FEMA’s letter explains that funding is intended for home repair, you should not spend it on rent or food. FEMA may provide you with money for more than one purpose at the same time.

You should save receipts showing how you spent the money for at least three years after you receive it. FEMA may ask you for proof that the money was spent as intended. If you receive money for home repair, but it is not enough to complete all repairs on your home, you should keep your receipts until all repairs are completed so that you can show proof of how you spent the FEMA money to any other organizations assisting you.

If you are unable to use the funding for the intended purpose, you should return it to FEMA. If you spend the money for another purpose, you may be required to repay FEMA in the future.

If FEMA approves you for rental assistance, you will receive two months’ rent upfront, which you may also use to pay a security deposit and your first month’s rent. If you need continuing rental assistance after that, you will need to turn in additional documentation to FEMA, including a copy of your lease and information about your income and expenses.

FEMA Home Repair Assistance

If your home was damaged by a major disaster, you may be eligible for repair assistance from FEMA. FEMA repair assistance is only intended to help you with basic repairs to make it safe to return to your home. FEMA is not intended to assist with all repairs or result in your home returning to its pre-disaster condition.

FEMA also expects that you will soon return to your home and take steps to prevent further damage. For instance, if you have a hole in your roof, FEMA expects that you will place a tarp over it to prevent interior damage to your home.

You may be eligible for home repair assistance if:

  • You or a household member is a U.S. citizen, non‐citizen national, or qualified alien
  • Your home is in a declared disaster area
  • You own your home
  • Your home is uninhabitable or inaccessible due to the disaster
  • Your home is not covered by insurance, or your insurance does not cover your damage
  • You were occupying your home as your primary residence at the time of the disaster

You may NOT be eligible if:

  • You have other, adequate, rent-free housing available
  • You refused assistance from your insurance
  • You were required to maintain flood insurance after a previous disaster, but did not do so

Common issues that can cause FEMA to deny a homeowner’s claim include proving ownership and proving that the disaster has caused so much damage to the home that it is not currently habitable.

If FEMA denies your application for assistance or does not grant you enough money for your needs, you have 60 days to appeal. You can appeal on your own, or Legal Aid NC or another attorney can help you with your appeal.

Additional Resources

Category Name Organization
Disaster Relief FEMA Home Repair Assistance Legal Aid of North Carolina
Disaster Relief FEMA and Flood Insurance Legal Aid of North Carolina
Disaster Relief Duplication of benefits Legal Aid of North Carolina

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