The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that Louisiana residents displaced from their homes by Hurricane Laura may find FEMA rental assistance to be an important way to move their recovery forward.
The FEMA rental assistance is a temporary grant to survivors to pay for somewhere to live while they work on permanent housing plans such as repairing or rebuilding their home.
Options include renting an apartment, home or travel trailer that can keep survivors near their jobs, schools, homes and places of worship.
FEMA says that funds can be used for security deposits, rent and the cost of essential utilities such as electricity, gas and water. They may not be used for to pay for cable or Internet.
Survivors who live in Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Union, Vermilion, Vernon or Winn parish, follow these steps if your home is uninhabitable and you need a place to stay:
- Survivors need to file a claim with their insurance company. They should check with their homeowners or renters insurance agent about additional living expenses, or ALE, coverage as part of their policy that may assist in relocating to a temporary residence.
- Survivors should also register for FEMA assistance. If they have insurance, they should submit their settlement documents for review before FEMA can determine their eligibility status. If their policy does not include ALE, or if they exhaust this coverage and their home remains uninhabitable, they may be eligible for rental assistance from FEMA. They may register by either going online to disasterassistance.gov, downloading the FEMA app or by calling the helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Survivors who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362.
- A FEMA inspector will contact applicants by phone to ask questions about the type and extent of damage. It may be necessary for FEMA to perform a remote inspection if an applicant reported they cannot or may not be able to safely live in their home. It is important for FEMA to be able to contact applicants. Phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.
FEMA says that survivors should also keep receipts for three years to show how they spent FEMA grants. If grant money is not used as outlined in the letter, survivors may have to repay FEMA and could lose eligibility for further federal assistance to help them with their Hurricane Laura recovery.
Remote Home Inspections and COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, FEMA says that home inspections may be conducted remotely by phone. Remote inspections provide a new way of evaluating damage comparable to traditional, in-person inspections. They expedite the delivery of recovery assistance to survivors based on their eligibility.
Survivors with minimal damage who can live in their home will not automatically be scheduled for a home inspection after registering with FEMA. Survivors who find significant disaster-caused damage after registering can request an inspection.
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