ATLANTA – As of Jan. 2, 2018, an update to FEMA policy has made private non-profit houses of worship eligible to apply for funding to help with certain disaster-related costs under FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program. The program is funded by FEMA and administered by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA).
What is the Public Assistance grant program?
Public Assistance provides grants to state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, and certain types of private non-profit (PNP) organizations, so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from presidentially-declared disasters or emergencies.
Public Assistance is a grant reimbursement program funded by FEMA on a cost-share basis and administered by the state – AEMA.
Through the program, FEMA provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance, typically 75 percent reimbursement of eligible costs for Emergency Work (debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures) and Permanent Work (repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly-owned facilities, and the facilities of certain PNP organizations).
For PNPs, eligible debris removal is limited to that associated with an eligible facility, including debris on the property of the eligible facility.
For PNPs, eligible emergency protective measures are generally limited to activities associated with preventing damage to an eligible facility and its contents.
FEMA does not provide PA funding to PNPs for the costs associated with emergency services such as sheltering, feeding, and other similarly governmental services, unless those services were performed at the request of, and certified by, a legally-responsible government entity (FEMA funds through the government entity).
For PNPs, operating costs are generally not eligible even if the services are emergency services, unless the PNP performs an emergency service at the request of, and certified by, the legally-responsible government entity (FEMA funds through the government entity).
SBA disaster loans are a critical part of your application process.
For all PNPs that provide non-critical services, including houses of worship, FEMA may provide Public Assistance funding for eligible Permanent Work costs only if an SBA disaster loan does not cover them. Like all non-critical PNP facilities under the Stafford Act, the house of worship must apply to the SBA for a low-interest disaster loan for permanent repair work. FEMA will provide financial assistance ONLY if the PNP house of worship is denied an SBA loan – or if the loan authorized is insufficient to cover repair costs. PNPs with eligible facilities may apply directly to FEMA for debris removal and emergency protective measures.
Basic eligibility requirements
- To be an eligible applicant, a house of worship must:
o Be owned or operated by a private non-profit (PNP) organization, and
o Have damage caused by Hurricane Nate in Alabama Sept. 7 to 20, 2017, and
o Provide a non-critical but essential government-type service open to the general public, and
o Have either not received funding or received insufficient funding after applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan, and
o Provide a current ruling letter from the IRS granting tax exemption under Section 501 (c) (d) or (e) of the IRS Code of 1954, or
o Provide documentation from the state substantiating it is a non-revenue producing, nonprofit entity organized or doing business under State Law 59.
AEMA is reopening the period in February to submit Requests for Public Assistance (RPA) from eligible applicants. The RPA is a form that an applicant completes to express their intent to apply for funding. AEMA will contact all county emergency managers with potential eligible applicants to ensure they understand this revised information. Potential applicants should contact their county emergency manager for details on how to apply. The deadline to complete the RPA is March 2, 2018.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.