Losing your home to a disaster is probably the worst thing that can happen. In general, nobody is ever prepared for such a terrible experience. With this in mind, FEMA decided to provide individuals and households with the biggest support possible. In other words, disaster survivors may get a chance to regain their homes and their lives. In order to put this intention into action, FEMA released the individuals and households program.
What Is The FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP)?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides the IHP as a form of assistance to people during a crisis. The Individuals and Households Program provides financial and direct assistance to qualifying individuals and households who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and urgent needs as a result of a disaster.
IHP aid is not a replacement for insurance and cannot cover all disaster-related damages. In the first place, the support is meant to supplement catastrophe recovery efforts by meeting your basic necessities. It mainly includes the following types of assistance:
- Temporary housing
- Rental assistance
- Home repairs/replacement
- Hazard mitigation
- Funding other uninsured or underinsured disaster-related expenses and critical necessities.
What Kind of Assistance Can I Get Under the IHP?
1. Rental Assistance and Temporary Housing
Financial aid may be available to eligible survivors who need a temporary place to live while their house is under repair or until they find permanent housing. FEMA also provides temporary sheltering for eligible disaster survivors at participating hotels if the disaster is approved.
To FEMA, you are eligible for IHP housing assistance if you meet any of the following:
- You are a disaster survivor, which means that your home is uninhabitable because of the disaster, you agree to relocate, and your housing needs are not covered by insurance.
- After a disaster, you are currently staying in an emergency shelter location because your home is unlivable or inaccessible due to the disaster.
- You have no alternative reasonable temporary housing options within a suitable commuting distance due to a lack of rental resources.
2. Home Repair/Replacement
Eligible homeowners may receive financial aid to rebuild or make basic repairs to ensure their home is safe, sanitary, and functional. As a homeowner, you may be eligible for this kind of assistance if:
- FEMA inspects your house and determines that it is uninhabitable;
- Also, you do not have insurance to cover the repair costs.
3. Hazard Mitigation
FEMA will include additional mitigation support in Home Repair Assistance awards for disasters reported on or after May 26, 2021. That is a part of FEMA’s commitment to helping communities become stronger and more resilient. This support will enable eligible homeowners who have been affected by Presidential Disaster Declarations to repair or rebuild better, more durable dwellings.
Homeowners that qualify for Individuals and Households Program assistance may be eligible for additional FEMA money for particular mitigation measures. Additional funds will be included in the award amount for homeowners who are confirmed to be eligible for FEMA Home Repair Assistance. Among the specific mitigation measures are:
- Roof repair to resist greater winds and help stop water infiltration.
- Elevating a water heater or furnace to avoid flood damage in the future.
- Moving or elevating an electrical panel to prevent potential flood damage.
If applicants are eligible for assistance that includes these mitigation measures, they will be notified. The mitigation efforts are limited in scope and will only cover components that were present and functional before the tragedy and broke because of it.
4. Other Needs Assistance
Through IHP, FEMA provides financial support for necessary expenses and serious requirements caused directly by the disaster, such as:
- Child-care expenses.
- Medical and dental bills.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Damage to an essential vehicle.
- Fuel for the main heat source like heating oil or gas.
- Damage to basic domestic objects (furniture, appliances); clothing; necessary tools for work; essential educational materials (computers, schoolbooks, supplies).
- Clean-up devices like wet/dry vacuums or dehumidifiers.
- Expenses of moving and storage of essential household items to prevent further damage.
- Other costs or critical needs as determined by FEMA.
How to Apply for IHP?
In order to qualify for this program, you have to meet all of the following conditions:
- You or someone in your household is a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
- It is mandatory to pass the FEMA’s identity and occupancy verifications.
- Your principal residence is in a Presidentially declared disaster area and is either unlivable or inaccessible.
- You do not have insurance, or, if you have one, it does not cover all of the losses.
- For Home Repair and Home Replacement Assistance, you must pass ownership verification.
Supporting Documents for Identity Verification
- Documentation from the Social Security Administration or another federal institution containing your Social Security Number’s full or last four digits (SSN).
- Employer’s paycheck record including your SSN in its whole or the last four digits.
- Military identification.
- A U.S. passport.
- Marriage license as proof of maiden name.
It is important to note that in case you have insurance, you should file a claim with your provider when applying for IHP assistance. If you wish to apply, you can either go to DisasterAssistance.gov to apply online, or you can call the FEMA Helpline. You can also visit a local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) for help and more information.
After Applying for the Program
If your primary residence is no longer livable, sanitary, or safe due to a disaster, you may be scheduled for a home inspection to determine the extent of the damage. You will receive either a letter or electronic correspondence, depending on your selection indicated at the time of your application. The letter will clarify whether you are eligible for assistance, how much assistance you will receive, how you must use it, and how to appeal FEMA’s decision if you disagree with it.
At DisasterAssistance.gov, you can set up an online FEMA Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) account. For safe access to your disaster assistance application information, you will need to create a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN). Through your online account, you can:
- Check the details in your disaster aid application.
- Make changes to your personal information and requirements.
- View the letters and messages that FEMA has sent to you.
- Learn about the additional paperwork that FEMA requires in order to process your assistance.
- Upload documents and add them to your file.
- Review the data that FEMA has received from you.
When natural disasters hit, many people may find themselves in a very tight spot. Not everyone is ready to face such a tragedy. Even if you have been saving for emergencies, it would be helpful to apply for the FEMA’s IHP. In fact, it makes a significant difference as it helps with housing expenses if your home was damaged by a disaster. May you all never need it!