FEMA Response and Homelessness During COVID-19

FEMA Public Assistance Program Category B (Emergency Protective Measures): FAQs

What needed activities/services does the program provide or pay for? 
FEMA’s Public Assistance Program Category B can reimburse 75 percent of expenses for shelter and temporary housing, when state public health authorities determine it is needed. It can also pay for staff training, personal protective equipmentfood, and other expenses that are part of the state’s emergency plan. Entities eligible for reimbursement include state and local government, and nonprofit agencies that meet certain requirements. FEMA has already announced specific agreements with some states to pay for hotel rooms as temporary non-congregate shelter where medical need is indicated.  

  • Learn more about expenses eligible for reimbursement (via National Low Income Housing Coalition)
  • More details on noncongregate sheltering are in this FAQ (via FEMA). 

Which homeless or at-risk people are eligible?
Noncongregate shelter, including hotel rooms, funded by FEMA is for people with health or medical-related needs, included those who are infected with the coronavirus, or those with characteristics leaving them at risk of bad outcomes if they become infected. Programs that serve other homeless people may be eligible for reimbursement of other costs that arise from the public health emergency.

In at least a general way, how much money is readily available to use for emerging needs related to homelessness? 
FEMA resources are scaled to meet all eligible need. FEMA will typically consider other federal resources when determining a community’s need, and will only reimburse expenses that are not covered by another federal agency. 

Who has control over how these resources are used in their community, and who they can partner with as they plan for using the money?

All requests for Public Assistance from FEMA must be submitted to the state, territory, or tribal government, which then passes them on to FEMAExpenses will only be reimbursed if the state, territory or tribe has an emergency plan on file with FEMA, and a FEMA-State/Tribal/Territory Agreement, as appropriate. Any state or local government or nonprofit which may be eligible should contact the appropriate state/territorial/tribal agency or governor’s office immediately, so they can include those expenses in their agreement with FEMA. 

Applying for FEMA Funds

The States of California, Connecticut, and North Carolina successfully received approval from FEMA for Public Assistance funding costs relating to emergency non-congregate sheltering. This Public Assistance funding is for homeless populations at risk of COVID-19, and in the case of Connecticut and North Carolina, all people experiencing homelessness. Accordingly, the Alliance has created this template request letter to FEMA for use by state departments of emergency management in their efforts to secure additional resources to aid their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.