Is FEMA Suspending Rent for Disaster Survivors?

To address an internet rumor that FEMA is suspending rent for disaster survivors, the agency has issued a statement as to avoid confusion.  The rent suspension is only in certain states.  It does not apply to New Jersey.

FEMA is only suspending rent for disaster survivors living in FEMA housing in California, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas until July 1st. FEMA will contact you if you are eligible.  Other sources of financial relief for renters may be available through state and local governments. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also provides information on housing-related COVID-19 assistance.

FEMA is issuing a temporary suspension on rent for disaster survivors living in FEMA housing in the following states:

  • California
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • Texas
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This will help ease the financial burden on survivors because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The suspension applies to rent only; rent collection is expected to resume July 1.


What can individuals living in FEMA housing expect?

FEMA will mail a letter to all affected tenants about their rent suspension.

Survivors with questions may call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362.

Background:

Following a Major Disaster declaration, if a disaster survivor’s home has been damaged or destroyed and the survivor is unable to find another safe place to live, they may be eligible for a temporary housing unit. FEMA provides temporary housing, utilities and maintenance at no charge for up to 18 months after the date of the disaster declaration. In exchange, survivors are required to make efforts to complete essential home repairs or find other suitable housing. Survivors are also required to comply with FEMA terms and conditions for living in the temporary housing unit, which includes obeying federal, state, and local laws, and any rules established by the park owner if the unit is in a commercial park.

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If, after 18 months, FEMA extends the direct housing assistance and the survivor is unable to return home or find another place to live, they may be able to stay in FEMA housing but will pay rent based on the Fair Market Rent (FMR), as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. FEMA reduces the amount of rent for survivors who demonstrate that they are unable to pay this amount due their financial circumstances.

Survivors who have insurance benefits that provide coverage for additional living expenses are required to pay rent to FEMA up to the FMR or the amount of these benefits (whichever is less) to prevent a duplication of benefits with insurance that is prohibited by law.  Survivors making these payments are required to continue making them until their additional living expense benefits are exhausted.

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