If you are a homeowner or renter getting rental assistance from FEMA and still have a need for that funding and are eligible for it, you should complete and submit an application for Continued Rental Assistance. FEMA may provide up to two months of initial rental assistance for eligible applicants.
You may qualify for continued assistance if you:
• Demonstrate your disaster-related financial need; and
• Show you are developing a longer-term or permanent housing plan or demonstrate progress toward one. A contractor’s estimate of repairs can point to progress.
A permanent housing plan is one that would put you back into permanent safe, sanitary and functional housing within a reasonable time frame. You must continue to work toward obtaining permanent housing to remain eligible for Continued Rental Assistance.
MONROE COUNTY, FL – Monroe County homeowners and renters impacted by Hurricane Irma have received more than $50 million in assistance for housing and other recovery needs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Here is a fact sheet regarding assistance provided to Monroe County residents:
Since Hurricane Irma struck on Sept. 10, FEMA already has provided $50.7 million in grants to Monroe County homeowners and renters for uninsured damage to their primary residence and serious losses related to Hurricane Irma.
• More than 15,000 Monroe County households have received FEMA grants, which can include money for temporary rental assistance, home repairs and other needs not covered by insurance, such as replacing destroyed personal property.
• More than 8,000 Monroe County households have been provided with rental assistance money from FEMA. Many families have received two months of rental assistance. This enables survivors to rent an available rental property and check out of hotels.
• People who still cannot live in their primary residence after two months of rental assistance may be eligible for an additional three months of “continued rental assistance.” They can visit one of the four FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in the Keys or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 to request continued rental assistance. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.
• FEMA has conducted more than 21,000 home inspections in Monroe County. About 96 percent of home inspections for assistance eligibility in Monroe County have been completed. As more inspections are done, more FEMA grant money for uninsured losses, such as for home repairs, may be approved for survivors. This process can help more people move back home or find alternative housing.
As of Wednesday morning, 38 homeowners have registered for FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program known as STEP. This new grant program only has been implemented twice before – after Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast and following flooding in and around Baton Rouge, La.
STEP is a rapid repair program which enables eligible individuals or families whose homes were damaged due to Hurricane Irma to take shelter in their own homes while they rebuild. This includes a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and air-conditioning for this livable area of the home. The program is at no cost to the homeowner.
The last of three public meetings about the STEP program will be held tonight (Nov. 8), from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sugarloaf School, 225 Crane Blvd, Sugarloaf Key.
To apply for the STEP program, call the STEP hotline at 1-800-960-5860. It is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After applying by phone, required documentation can be scanned and emailed to Step@monroecounty-fl.gov.
Monroe County has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help Keys residents impacted by Hurricane Irma receive assistance for housing and other recovery needs. While much public attention has been focused on FEMA’s travel trailers for temporary housing, those trailers are primarily a last resort when more desirable housing options are not available to individuals and families.
Here is an overview of assistance provided to Monroe County residents:
• Since Hurricane Irma struck on Sept. 10, FEMA has provided $44 million in grants to Monroe County homeowners and renters for uninsured damage to their primary residence and serious losses related to Hurricane Irma.
• More than 14,000 Monroe County households have received FEMA grants, which include money for temporary rental assistance, home repairs and other needs not covered by insurance, such as replacing destroyed personal property.
• More than 8,000 Monroe County households have been provided rental assistance funds from FEMA. Many families have received two months of rental assistance. This enables survivors to rent an available rental property and move out of hotels.
NOTE: The deadline to apply for FEMA disaster assistance has been extended to Nov. 24
Hurricane Irma left many people without homes in the Florida Keys. Some displaced people have received or have been approved for FEMA rental assistance grants, which cover the first two months.
Monroe County’s Irma housing task force worked with FEMA to increase the “continued” rental assistance provided to disaster survivors.
FEMA recently approved rental assistance of a cap of up to 300 percent the FY2018 Fair Market Rent Figures, beginning in the third month — and provided the disaster survivor continues to meet FEMA criteria and has spent the initial rental assistance funds on temporary housing.
Under the increased rates: FEMA will provide monthly rental assistance up to $2,880 for an efficiency; $3,417 for a 1-bedroom; $4,542 for a 2-bedroom; $5,742 for a 3-bedroom; and $7,542 for a 4-bedroom rental. The increased assistance will help disaster survivors pay for the limited available Keys’ rentals, which primarily are second homes and vacation rental properties.
To assist in this temporary housing solution, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has adopted an ordinance to providing a temporary exemption for rental property owners from having to pay the 4 cent tourist development tax and the 1 cent tourist impact tax (bed taxes) for rentals to residents displaced by Hurricane Irma.
To help Keys rental property owners and participants in the FEMA Housing Assistance Program find each other, we have added a form to KeysRecovery.org. There is a link to the form in the navigation bar called “Rental Assistance.” The form also is accessible at the top of the righthand sidebar on a PC (below the newsfeed on a mobile device) where property owners can list their rental property.
Participants in the FEMA Housing Assistance Program, which provides rent support for victims of Hurricane Irma displaced from their homes, can view listings and contact owners directly.
Monroe County does not review or warrant the listings. This is a tool to help owners find renters in support of the FEMA Housing Assistance Program.
Because of the Keys’ unique housing situation, FEMA increased rental rates to 300 percent of its fair market costs to meet the housing needs of displaced survivors. More information on the FEMA Housing Assistance Program is available here.
In an effort to quickly get recovery funds into the hands of survivors, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has enhanced the flood insurance claims process with changes to how you file your claim. If you’re a policyholder, understand the process and options to speed your recovery from Hurricane Irma.
Advance payments may be available to eligible policyholders. After filing your claim, discuss an advance payment with your insurer.
• You may receive a check for up to $5,000 as an advance payment on your flood claim without an adjuster visit or additional documentation. Along with the advance payment, you will receive a letter explaining that by accepting payment, you certify you have the flood damage claimed.
• Up to $20,000 may be available in advance payments if you provide photographs and receipts validating the out-of-pocket expenses related to your flood loss or a contractor’s itemized estimate.
Advance payments are deducted from the final claim settlement amount and may only be used according to the terms of the Standard Flood Policy. In the meantime, don’t wait to clean up your home. Take photos or video footage of flood-damaged property, then immediately remove flood-damaged items — especially those that may pose a health risk, such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions, pillows, etc. For more information about safely cleaning up after the flood, click here.
The Monroe County–ed task force on housing has been working on creative solutions — due to the unique lodging challenges of the Florida Keys — to help FEMA find temporary housing for people who lost their homes or whose homes are uninhabitable due to Hurricane Irma.
On Friday,FEMA informed the task force that it will increase the rental assistance provided to disaster survivors to rates high enough to pay for available Keys’ rentals, which primarily are second homes and vacation rental properties.
FEMA previously had approved an increase to the FY2018 Fair Market Rent figures of a cap up to 110 percent. But that did not meet the community needs of Monroe County, which has a unique housing market with 29,000 of its 53,000 total housing units owned by second home owners. Primarily due to this unique challenge and the destruction of so many affordable rentals, FEMA approved rental assistance of a cap of up to 300 percent.
This is how it break downs:
• Efficiency goes from FY2018 rate of $960 to $2880
• One bedroom goes from $1,139 to $3,417
• Two bedroom goes from $1,514 to $4,542
• Three-bedroom goes from $1,914 to $5,742
• Four-bedroom goes from $2,514 to $7,542.
Individuals receive this assistance through registration with FEMA for individual assistance. FEMA must approve each case individually for rental assistance.
All applicants receive letters from the Federal Emergency Management Administration explaining the status of their applications and whether or not they are eligible for assistance from FEMA. Some may receive text messages about their application. Take the time to read the document thoroughly. Sometimes people do not immediately qualify for financial help and the reason can be corrected.
The following are some common reasons for not qualifying:
• The applicant did not sign the required documents
• Proof of ownership or occupancy was not supplied
• No proof the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster
• Someone else in the household may have applied and received assistance
Just like you have to beware of unlicensed and unscrupulous contractors in the wake of Hurricane Irma, you also have to beware of unsubstantiated and untrue information. Here are a few false rumors that the Federal Emergency Management Administration has heard circulating in the Keys:
• RUMOR: Houses on stilts do not qualify for FEMA Insurance. FALSE: FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program covers a variety of elevated homes. To obtain a flood insurance policy from the NFIP, you need to live in a community that participates in the NFIP. Because several factors can determine eligibility of a structure, the best way to know whether your home qualifies for coverage is to consult your flood insurance agent. Regardless of whether you have coverage under NFIP, you can still apply for FEMA disaster assistance for free at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
• RUMOR: FEMA is paying volunteers $700/day . FALSE: FEMA does not solicit volunteers to work on behalf of the agency, but rather hires and compensates qualified staff. In Florida, FEMA is hiring local employees to assist with disaster recovery. Go to the website www.employflorida.com to apply.
• RUMOR: FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Survivor Teams are going door-to-door handing out $500 checks. FALSE: FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Survivor Teams are going door-to-door to register survivors for disaster assistance (www.disasterassistance.gov). They offer this assistance in a variety of languages. Our Disaster Assistance Survivor Teams do not hand out checks nor do they carry cash.