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Disaster Relief: Emergency Housing and Other Needs Assistance

Disaster Relief

This article contains information on ways you can get help with emergency housing and other needs as you recover from a disaster.

Here, learn about government programs available for help following a disaster. The article discusses housing and other needs assistance and includes links to agencies where you can apply for aid. 

Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

IHP includes two programs: Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance. To qualify, a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien must live in your household. If your child is a citizen but you are undocumented, you can apply for IHP in behalf of your minor child. Your child must live with you and have a social security number. FEMA can tell you about getting a social security number for your child. You will have to verify identity and the address where you lived at the time of the disaster. Keep receipts to prove your disaster-related expenses.

Housing Assistance

Repair and Replacement Assistance is a one-time payment. Temporary Housing Assistance is for an initial period of one to three months. Housing assistance includes:

  • Temporary Lodging Reimbursement. Reimbursement for hotels, motels, or other short-term lodging following evacuation. Keep all receipts!
  • Rental Assistance. Up to 18 months of help to rent a house, apartment, manufactured home, recreational vehicle, or other living space while repairs are made to your pre-disaster housing. If you need more than $33,000 to make repairs, apply for an SBA disaster loan.
  • Manufactured Housing. Temporary housing in manufactured homes provided by FEMA.
  • Multi-Family Lease and Repair. Allows FEMA to lease multi-family rental properties in disaster areas to provide temporary housing.

All other IHP assistance is limited to 18 months following the disaster declaration. Depending on your needs, you may qualify for more than one type of assistance through IHP.

Other Needs Assistance

This can help with needs not met through other types of disaster assistance.

Dependent ONA (depends on whether you qualify for an SBA Disaster Loan) can help you repair or replace personal property and household items like furnishings, appliances, and tools needed for work; transportation, including repair or replacement of a damaged vehicle; and with moving and storage costs.

Non-Dependent ONA covers need regardless of whether you have applied for an SBA loan. It can help with:

  • funeral expenses (including reburial);
  • medical and dental expenses (including injury, illness, lost medication and medical equipment, and insurance co-payments);
  • child care expenses (a one-time payment for up to eight weeks of care); and
  • reimbursement for the purchase or rental of items used for repair or cleanup (such as a chainsaw, air purifier, or dehumidifier).

How do I apply?

ONA and IHP have the same application. If you've applied to the IHP, you don't need to file for ONA. Apply online or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. Cash benefits will come by check or electronic transfer to your bank.

Do I have to pay FEMA/IHA program back?

No. But keep your receipts to prove how you spent the funds. If you don’t use the funds for the intended purpose, you might have to pay them back. If you have an SBA loan, you must pay it back.

Will IHA affect my eligibility for other benefits?

Like most disaster resources, the benefits you get through IHP Housing and Other Needs Assistance are not counted for purposes of your social security or disability benefits.

Right to Appeal

If you disagree with FEMA’s decision about whether you are eligible or the amount of expenses that they have agreed to cover, you have the right to appeal within 60 days of your notification letter from FEMA.

Links to Disaster Relief Resources

The resources listed below were originally compiled in response to Hurricane Harvey, and have been updated.

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