(Reuters) - Federal aid in the immediate aftermath of a disaster like Hurricane Harvey is offered in several forms, from short-term grants to low-interest loans.
FEMA offers money indirectly through state government to distribute to localities or directly to individuals who apply for assistance online or through FEMA’s disaster recovery centers.
The following are programs available for those affected by Hurricane Harvey:
Individual assistance programs - FEMA can offer up to around $33,000, but on average between $2000 and $4000, in immediate disaster grants to help individuals and households cope with the immediate impact of the disaster. The money is available to both homeowners and renters. This can cover rental payments for temporary housing for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. The money can also be used toward home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance. It can also help victims cover medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.
Disaster unemployment Assistance - Victims can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment payments, including those who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals; crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income-tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and social security matters.
Small Business Administration loans - The SBA is the largest source of federal recovery funds for disaster survivors and businesses. It offers low-interest disaster loans of up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses can borrow up to $2 million to repair damage to real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Interest rates on 30-year SBA loans can be as low as 3.215 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters.
Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) - Short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose communities are either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to disaster-related damage.
Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) - Assistance for individuals and households who, as a result of the disaster, have immediate or critical needs such as water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items, and fuel for transportation. CNA is a one-time payment of $500 per household for eligible applicants who register for FEMA assistance.
Reporting By Valerie Volcovici in Washington