As part of ongoing efforts to ensure families and individuals impacted by Hurricane Sandy get the support they need, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is increasing the amount of rental assistance that it may provide eligible disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey. The rental amount, based on existing HUD Fair Market Rates (FMR) for fiscal 2013, is being increased by an additional 25 percent.
HUD FMR rates are rental cost estimates that include the cost of the shelter and all other tenant-paid utilities except telephone, cable, and internet services. HUD designs annual FMR levels to be high enough to allow for a wide selection of available units, yet low enough so that as many units as possible may be rented and provided to low-income families.
Immediately after the recent disasters in the Northeast, FEMA evaluated the number of available rental resources within Metropolitan New York and Northern New Jersey that might be available to house disaster survivors. It was quickly apparent that the cost of available rental units could become a limiting factor, so FEMA authorized funds to increase the existing rental assistance in New York and New Jersey to exceed current FY2013 levels by 125 percent. The increase will be implemented when the survivor is recertified for a continued need for temporary housing assistance. Disaster survivors are free to rent properties above the 125 percent FMR, but will only receive assistance up to the 125 percent FMR.
The approved FMR increase is expected to make an additional 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey.
The increase in the FMR for New York and New Jersey is one of many ways FEMA is committed to supporting survivors in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as they begin their disaster recovery efforts.
FEMA encourages all the affected states to take the lead in identifying their local needs and resources by convening state-led Housing Task Forces. These individualized task forces help ensure the states continue to have the authority to select from available temporary housing solutions they deem sufficient to meet the needs of their residents following a disaster. The state Housing Task Forces in New York and New Jersey have already begun meeting with FEMA representatives, and recovery housing plans are underway.
Families and individuals in the declared counties who are registered for federal disaster assistance and seeking rental resources can search through hundreds of listings on the FEMA Housing Portal at asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm. The site is updated regularly but families are advised that properties listed in the Housing Portal are only potential housing options, and they should contact the property owner to check if the listed unit is still available.
The FEMA Housing Portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by a variety of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Veterans Administration, but also lists rental properties provided by private organizations and property owners willing to help their neighbors during these difficult times.