One way the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps disaster survivors is by giving them money they can use to assist them with basic needs, such as housing. To get this support, you have to comply with the requirements of FEMA’s application process. You also should know how to file an appeal if FEMA rejects your application.
Legal aid offices provide low-income Americans with free legal assistance and may be able to help them file FEMA applications and appeal FEMA decisions.
If you are looking for help with a civil legal problem, use this tool to enter an address or city to find an LSC-funded legal aid organization near you.
Disaster survivors also can get free assistance with their applications at the Disaster Recovery Centers that FEMA opens in the area after the federal government declares a disaster.
FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are accessible facilities and mobile offices you can visit to learn more about FEMA and other disaster assistance programs. You may also visit to ask questions about your case. DRCs are set up in convenient areas after a disaster to make them easier to find.
A DRC may be able to help you:
To find a Disaster Recovery Center near you, use the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s DRC locator or text “DRC” and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to locate a Disaster Recovery Center in your area.
FEMA assistance becomes available when the President of the United States issues a major disaster declaration for an area, like a county. Assistance money is provided as a grant, which means you do not have to pay it back. However, you can spend the money only on the things FEMA allows it to be used for.
FEMA provides two types of financial assistance under its Individuals and Households Program:
The application process has many steps, but here are some critical points:
This document provides a quick overview of the FEMA application and appeals process. It can serve as a reference for attorneys or as a handout for the general public.
This illustrated guide from the Center for Urban Pedagogy explains the basics of FEMA relief.