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What is Federal Disaster Assistance and who is eligible to receive it?


Federal Disaster Assistance is distributed in the form of grants. It does not have to be repaid provided that insurance proceeds for the same expenses are not received at a later time.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to issue a major disaster declaration to speed a wide range of federal aid to areas determined to be devastated by manmade or natural disasters.

The Stafford Act authorizes temporary housing, grants for immediate needs of families and individuals, the repair of public infrastructure, emergency communications systems, and other forms of assistance.

Some catastrophes that were designated as Federal Disasters include Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Charley, Ivan, Frances, Jean and Isabel. These events represent only a small number of Federal Disasters that have been declared in recent years. Federal Disasters may include weather related disasters such as any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States.

The grant program is intended to provide funds to individuals or families to permit them to meet those disaster-related necessary expenses or serious needs for which assistance from other means is either unavailable or inadequate. The grant program is not intended to indemnify disaster losses or to permit purchase of items or services which may generally be characterized as nonessential, luxury, or decorative.

Assistance under the program is not to be counted as income or a resource in the determination of eligibility for welfare or other income-tested programs supported by the Federal Government.

Grants under the Stafford Act are administered by FEMA.


Eligibility source CFR Title 44 Section 206.131 (d) (1)

To qualify for a grant an individual or family representative must:

(A) Make application to all applicable available governmental disaster assistance programs for assistance to meet a necessary expense or serious need, and be determined not qualified for such assistance, or demonstrate that the assistance received does not satisfy the total necessary expense or serious need;

(B) Not have previously received or refused assistance from other means for the specific necessary expense or serious need, or portion thereof, for which application is made; and

(C) Certify to refund to the State that part of the grant for which assistance from other means is received, or which is not spent as identified in the grant award document. (ii) Individuals and families who incur a necessary expense or serious need in the major disaster area may be eligible for assistance under this section without regard to their alienage, their residency in the major disaster area, or their residency within the State in which the major disaster has been declared except that for assistance in the "housing'' category, ownership and residency in the declared disaster area are required.


Housing Repairs

A key eligibility factor for Housing Repair assistance is the requirement that the applicant must have suffered damage to their primary, owner occupied home.



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Last Modified: 100405 0029

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