The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on November 1st will begin implementing its temporary disaster housing program to assist families displaced by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav. In anticipation of the start date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has given the names of more than 6,500 eligible families to HUD which will provide temporary housing assistance until March 2010.
This program will provide housing assistance and case management for homeowners and renters who were displaced by the 2008 hurricanes.
Families whose homes received substantial damage and are likely uninhabitable during the 17-month program should register with FEMA at 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362).
Only those families who meet FEMA's eligibility requirements for housing assistance under the Individuals and Households Program will be referred to HUD. An individual or a pre-disaster member of the household must be a United States citizen, a non-citizen national or a qualified alien. In addition, a person who is not a qualified alien, but whose child is a citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien, may apply for assistance on behalf of the child. The applicant must have incurred uninsured disaster-related losses in an area designated by the President for their primary residence. Eligible applicants who are expected to be unable to return to their home for a prolonged period of time due to substantial damage from the disaster will be referred to HUD.
Families who have already received a letter from FEMA informing them of their eligibility, should call HUD's Referral Call Center (RCC) toll-free 1 (866) 373-9509 to determine their current housing needs. The RCC representative will direct the family to the appropriate public housing authority (PHA), which will begin providing direct rental assistance to the residence of the individual's choice and start case management.
After all program requirements are met, the PHA will pay landlords either the Fair Market Rent (FMR) or the payment standard set by the local PHA, not to exceed the actual rent. For the first six months, the rent will be paid in full. Beginning May 1, 2009, the tenant will pay $50 towards the rent to accelerate their path to self sufficiency. Each month thereafter, the tenant's portion of the rent will increase by $50 until the tenant is paying the full rent or terminates from the program.
Starting in August 2009, families whose rent burden does not exceed 30 percent of post-disaster gross income, taking into account existing mortgages for personal residences that remain uninhabitable, will no longer be eligible for DHAP-Ike. As long as families' rent burden and mortgage continue to exceed 30 percent of post-disaster income and meet other program obligations, they will continue to receive assistance. The program ends March 13, 2010. Eligible families can live in a community outside of the disaster area and DHAP-Ike will subsidize their rent anywhere in the U.S.
Eligible applicants can actively seek and find housing prior to contact with the PHA. If the applicant finds a rental that currently is not listed, the PHA may encourage the landlord to register to participate in DHAP-Ike. Registering is a simple process that offers the landlord incentives to participate. Landlords can go to the HUD Web site at http://www.hud.gov/offices/pih/publications/ike.cfm
for a sample rental agreement. For rental rates, landlords can contact their local PHA.
DHAP-Ike will be implemented as follows:
- Families who were displaced by Hurricanes Gustav or Ike and believe they are eligible for assistance must register with FEMA by calling 1 (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.FEMA.gov.
- FEMA will use its criteria to determine persons eligible for DHAP-Ike and send an approval letter to eligible persons.
- Eligible persons will also receive a telephone call and letter from HUD with detailed information to ensure their rental assistance continues and how they will begin case management. Local public housing agencies (PHAs), which are administering the program, will also contact eligible persons to ensure their housing needs are being met.
- After all program requirements are met, PHAs will begin making rental payments to landlords for persons determined eligible by FEMA.
FEMA began referring eligible families to HUD on October 15th.
- After receiving an eligibility letter from FEMA, persons can call the HUD Referral Call Center (RCC) toll-free 1 (866) 373-9509 to determine their current housing needs.
- For people who are already in rental units, the assigned PHA will contact landlords to ensure the necessary documents are in place to continue assistance payments through DHAP-Ike.
- PHAs will assist families who remain in shelters or who are residing with friends or family to locate housing.
- PHAs will pay the higher of the Fair Market Rent rate or the PHAs payment standard not to exceed the actual rent.
- Starting in August 2009, families whose rent burdens do not exceed 30 percent of post-disaster gross income, taking into account existing mortgages for personal residences that remain uninhabitable, will no longer be eligible for DHAP-Ike.
- Families whose rent burden and mortgage exceed 30 percent of post-disaster income, will continue to receive assistance.
Eligible families will begin contributing $50 toward their rent starting May 1, 2009. Every month thereafter, the family portion of the rent will increase in increments of $50 through March 2010 or at program termination.
- DHAP-Ike provides a hardship waiver of the $50 Incremental Rent Transition (IRT) for families that prove that they cannot afford the rent increment. The details of the hardship provision will be explained in standard operating procedures that will be published shortly.
- Family obligations to continue eligibility in DHAP-Ike include the following:
- Families must abide by the terms of the lease and maintain the unit in good condition;
- Families must participate in case management services;
- When IRT begins, families must agree to pay their portion of rent on time and in full;
- Families must accurately and honestly certify the receipt of benefits from either Small Business Administration loans, insurance proceeds or any other duplication of benefits.