Going through a serious disaster is horrifying enough. But, thinking of the aftermath such disasters may have on an individual and/or a household is a whole different bag of cats. Just to think of the damage these disasters can cause to homes, jobs, and livelihoods, makes it perfectly logical that the government would create assistance programs just for such scenarios. There’s actually a whole federal department responsible for responding to disasters. That department is called the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA for short. Those guys are often the first line of defense when it comes to responding to any major events that affect a large number of people within the US. For example, FEMA played a major role in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Their contribution to the response included vaccine support, taking care of patients and healthcare workers, and providing economic/financial support where necessary.
FEMA continues to provide support to those in need during times of crisis. Among the many assistance programs FEMA provides is the Individuals and Households Program. We’ll dive deep into how the program works. We’ll also discuss how to apply for it and what the eligibility terms are to qualify. As always, we highly recommend checking the government’s actual websites for the most reliable information on any of their assistance programs.
What Is The Individuals and Households Program (IHP)?
FEMA uses the Individuals and Households Program to provide financial support to people who have gone through a disaster. The program focuses on supporting uninsured or under-insured individuals and households. Through IHP, these people can receive financial support to afford necessary expenses. While the program mainly provides support with housing, the program also concerns itself with other expenses such as moving and storage, medical, dental, child care, funeral, and other miscellaneous items approved by your state, territory, or tribal government.
How The Individuals And Households Program Can Help With Housing
We all know how much housing costs in the US. Whether you’re renting or you own a place, your expenses are probably pretty high. In the unfortunate scenario that a disaster takes place, an individual or household housing situation is likely to be affected. The disaster may not affect a housing unit directly, but it may affect factors concerned with it. These factors can include things such as income, or logistics, such as roads that lead to American houses. That’s why the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through IHP, provides all kinds of housing assistance to people affected by disasters. So, let’s break down the kind of housing support the government can give Americans if they go through a presidentially-declared disaster.
IHP Can Help People Who Went Through A Disaster With A Temporary Place To Stay
During a disaster, Americans may find their homes uninhabitable. These homes may need repairs, or even worse, these houses may no longer be fit for a safe stay. That’s why FEMA provides assistance with temporary housing. Individuals who went through a presidentially-declared disaster may claim temporary housing rental assistance through the Individuals and Households Program. Moreover, if these individuals and/or families had to stay in hotels while they figured their housing situations out, the government can compensate them for their hotel costs.
If you’ve come across articles about federal assistance programs before, then you probably know that each of them has a different set of qualifications that you must meet to be eligible for its benefits. Eligibility terms for temporary housing assistance through IHP are pretty simple:
- Candidates’ homes must be unfit for a safe stay due to a disaster
- These candidates must agree to relocate
- Their housing needs are not covered by insurance
FEMA Can Even Provide Places To Stay To Those In Need
It’s difficult to imagine what it would feel like to lose one’s home due to a disaster. It’s not just about losing the roof one would be used to having over their heads. If a person or family goes through such a crisis, there can be many psychological effects. Those effects can range from stress and emotional instability, all the way to anxiety and trauma. The best practice, in that case, is to address these psychological effects as soon as possible.
Besides that, a family who goes through such a crisis would need a safe place to stay. Having such a safe space can at least give such a family the environment to think of what to do next. That’s why the government created Emergency Shelters.
Emergency shelters are homeless shelters but are focused on people going through emergencies. Be it domestic violence, teenage runaways, or people displaced due to disasters, Emergency shelters will have their doors open. In these shelters, medical and psychological counseling is often available to help victims of such unfortunate circumstances.
These shelters usually operate on a first-come-first-basic. That means that these shelters will offer help to whoever comes to their doorsteps first. If a shelter is full-occupied, they will have to turn people away, but will also refer them to other nearby shelters that might help. Here’s a map that can help you find shelters in your surrounding area.
You Can Claim Financial Assistance For Repairs On Homes Damaged By A Disaster
In case of a disaster, there’s no telling what can happen to someone’s house. These disasters can include wildfires, storms, earthquakes, and more. So, homeowners have no way of expecting what might happen to their homes should they ever go through an unfortunate disaster. That’s why FEMA is willing to help Americans pay for home repairs if their homes were damaged by a disaster. According to the government, “the goal is to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition. FEMA may provide up to the IHP maximum for home repair; then the homeowner may apply for a Small Business Administration disaster
loan for additional repair assistance. FEMA will not pay to return a home to its condition before the disaster. Flood insurance may be required if the home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
In specific cases, FEMA may even help replace a disaster-damaged home. If the disaster-damaged home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, homeowners will have to follow flood insurance purchase requirements and local flood codes and requirements.
The List Of Things FEMA Can Help Pay For Repairing And/Or Fixing
- Structural parts of a home (foundation, outside walls, roof)
- Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry
- Septic or sewage system
- Well or other water systems
- Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
- Utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems)
- Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads
- Blocking, leveling, and anchoring of a mobile home and reconnecting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical, and fuel lines and tanks
FEMA May Even Help Americans Build New Homes
FEMA, through IHP, may provide direct assistance or financial assistance to help Americans build new homes. But this can only happen under very specific circumstances. FEMA also provides this type of assistance in certain locations that they specify, especially if applicants can not receive other types of housing assistance.
There are a few caveats to this type of federal assistance. Construction of these houses may only follow current minimal local building codes and standards where they exist or minimally acceptable construction industry standards in the area. Basically, don’t expect the government to assist you in building a fancy new home. FEMA will consider occupants’ needs when it comes to quality, size, and capacity.
Americans Who Go Through Disasters May Also Claim Assistance With Other Needs
Should a household go through an unfortunate case of a presidentially declared disaster, they might suffer losses that go beyond just their home. Unfortunately, these disasters cause losses that extend to personal possessions such as personal belongings, vehicles, or even furniture. In the worst-case scenario, these disasters may cost human lives. Thankfully, the government took all of that into consideration when developing the Individuals and Households Program.
That’s why when a family is claiming benefits through IHP, they can claim the following items:
- Medical expenses, such as hospital bills and dental expenses
- Funeral and burial costs in case lives were lost due to the disaster
- Cleaning, repairing, or replacement of:
- Household items, such as furniture and/or appliances
- Materials used for educational purposes, such as computers, books, and supplies
- Specialized tools required for the beneficiary’s job, as well as protective clothing
- Cleaning materials, such as vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and dehumidifiers
- Fuel for heating equipment, including heating oil and gas
- Candidates may also claim benefits for repairs on vehicles damaged by the disaster.
- Costs for public or other transportation expenses
- Moving and storage expenses related to damage caused by the disaster.
A Few More Things To Know About The Individuals And Household Program
By now, it should be pretty clear that the program aims to help individuals and families who go through presidentially declared disasters. These individuals and families also must be uninsured or underinsured, hence unable to cover their own costs. Moreover, these folks need to provide proof that they’re US citizens, non-citizens, or eligible immigrants.
On top of that, FEMA does not intend to use the Individuals and Households Program as an alternative for private insurance. The idea is to provide necessary assistance to make up for what these private efforts cannot accomplish. Besides that, FEMA doesn’t intend to use IHP to compensate people for their losses. FEMA also does not guarantee that they will return eligible candidates’ homes to their pre-disaster conditions.
Disasters are horrible, and in many cases unavoidable. These disasters can cause a lot of damage to a household’s livelihood. Thankfully, the government is here to provide some assistance to make up for such losses. Make sure to visit both FEMA’s and the IHP’s websites for more information.