FEMA & Local Assistance

Faith-based, community, volunteer, and non-profit organizations in areas eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program as part of a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration may apply for FEMA grants to help them get back to the business of helping others.

As part of its mission, FEMA provides grants to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and certain private nonprofits through its Public Assistance program. Community, volunteer, faith-based, and non-profit organizations may apply for FEMA grants to help them get back to the business of helping others, if your area is eligible. Eligible areas are those declared a disaster under a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration.

Community, volunteer, faith-based, and private nonprofit organizations conducting critical and essential services of a governmental nature, such as providing shelter or operating as a resource center that sustained disaster damage may be able to receive FEMA Public Assistance (PA) grants to repair or replace their facilities so they can continue offering critical and essential community services. Under the PA grants, arts, culture, and historical organizations might be eligible. However, in order to be eligible, an organization must be able to articulate, convincingly, why they are essential to the civic identity and wellbeing of its constituents.

When any organization provides emergency protective measures, such as sheltering and feeding survivors on behalf of state or local governments, FEMA may reimburse the costs of those services. This would first go to the state or local government, and then the organization must enter into an agreement with the governmental agency for these services for reimbursement.

The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your nonprofit cultural organization is to submit Request for Public Assistance (an RPA) to the state, tribe, or territory within the deadline, typically within 30 days after the Major Disaster Declaration for your area. Information on the RPA deadline is updated on state, tribe, or territory emergency management websites.

Organizations that provide services of a non-critical, or essential governmental nature must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration before being considered for a PA grant. Public Assistance grants may be able to provide assistance to organizations that provide non-critical, essential governmental services for repair or replacement costs that SBA loans do not cover.

Please remember that one of the first steps toward financial recovery should be filing a claim with your insurance company, as FEMA cannot duplicate insurance settlements. FEMA should be seen as an avenue of last resort. They will ask if you have reached out to other organizations such as local and state resources when applying. You must have at least filed a claim with your insurance before applying for Public Assistance.

For more information visit FEMA.gov or DisasterAssitance.gov.

State and local level resources:

Texas Workforce Commissioner Disaster Unemployment Assistance - https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/disaster-unemployment-assistance

Texas Health and Human Services 2-1-1 service - https://www.211texas.org/

City of Houston Neighborhood Restoration Centers: These are neighborhood base centers where residents can be connected to a variety of recovery support services - https://houstonrecovers.org/neighborhood-restoration-center/

Non-profit Community Resources

Houston Food Bank - https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/

CultureSource Houston - https://culturesourcehtx.org/

The Greater Houston Community foundation - https://ghcf.org/learn/