FACT SHEET: Private non-profit Houses of Worship in Alabama may now be eligible to apply for FEMA Public Assistance to cover Damage from March 19-20 tornadoes and storms

As of Jan. 2, 2018, an update to FEMA policy makes private non-profit houses of worship eligible to apply for potential funding to help with certain disaster-related costs under FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program.

 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
  • The Public Assistance program is funded by FEMA on a cost-share basis and administered by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.
  • 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
      • For PNPs, eligible emergency protective measures are generally limited to activities associated with preventing damage to an eligible facility and its
      • 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).

Eligibility requirements for houses of worship

  • To be an eligible applicant, a house of worship must:
    • Be owned or operated by a Private Non-Profit organization, and
    • Have damage caused by the tornadoes and storms occurring March 19-20, 2018, and
    • Provide non-critical, essential social services open to the general public, without regard to their religious or secular nature, and
    • Have applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan and received insufficient funding or found to be ineligible for a loan, and
    • 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
    • Provide documentation from the state substantiating it is a non-revenue producing, nonprofit entity organized or doing business under Alabama Code (1975) Section 10A-3-1.04, et seq

Request for Public Assistance (RPA) Pre-Application

Your RPA Form must be completed and submitted in the FEMA Grants Portal to be considered for disaster recovery assistance funding. Once completed, email the form to pa@ema.alabama.gov

    • Contact Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) Public Assistance at (205) 280-2316 with any questions on RPA submission.
  • The deadline to complete the RPA is May 25, 2018.

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.