Roof Over Your Head

The experience of homelessness for those who have been forced out of their homes as a result of a natural disaster is particularly devastating. Suddenly, in spite of years of careful planning and saving, you may have lost your home and its valued contents. You may have lost treasured mementos and cherished possessions that are an important part of your history. If this is the case, you have reason to grieve. While no one can truly recapture all that you have lost, there is help available to help you begin again.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

If your area is declared a national disaster, you may qualify for financial aid. You are encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance or aid, regardless of the extent of the disaster you experienced.

People who suffered damages from the storms are eligible for assistance through various programs offered by FEMA. If you are a renter, you may be eligible for a grant from FEMA to cover Short term rent assistance at a new location. The process involved in applying for FEMA may seem time-consuming. However, you may be missing an important source of financial assistance if you fail to take advantage of this opportunity.  

When you apply, please have the following information available:

  • Social Security number
  • Current and pre-disaster address
  • Telephone numbers where you can be contacted
  • Insurance Information
  • Total household income 
  • A routing and account number from your bank (only necessary if you want to have disaster assistance funds transferred directly) 

Registering online is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance since the event will last several days and the full scope of damages may not be evident until the storm has passed. If you do not have access to the internet you may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

For survivors who have registered, short-term housing assistance and other immediate funding is available:

  • Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) was approved in Texas for eligible disaster survivors who have a continuing need for shelter because they are unable to return to their homes for an extended period of time. This initiative is intended to provide short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose communities are either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to disaster-related damage. FEMA will contact you if you are eligible for the program. A listing of available properties under this program can be found at www.femaevachotels.com.
  • Two Months of Expedited Rental Assistance was also approved in Texas for eligible disaster survivors. Due to the size of the disaster, FEMA is using coastal depth and riverine flooding data to identify damaged homes, so survivors can get funds quickly and begin making decisions regarding their temporary housing solutions.
  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Advance Payments. If a survivor has NFIP flood insurance and suffered damage during the recent floods related to Hurricane Harvey, they may be eligible to receive up to $5,000 for building and contents damages prior to the adjuster’s inspection with a signed advance payment request agreement. If a policyholder has photos and receipts that validate out-of-pocket expense, they may receive an advance payment up to $10,000. If the flood insurance adjuster has inspected a loss, and the policyholder’s property has significant damage, and a copy of a contractor’s estimate, they may receive a larger advance payment of the estimated covered loss. Any advance payments are deducted from a final claims payment.
  • Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) may now be available to individuals and households who, as a result of the disaster, have immediate or critical needs because they are displaced from their primary home. Immediate or critical needs include, but aren’t limited to, water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items, and fuel for transportation. CNA is a one-time, limited payment per household for eligible applicants who register for FEMA assistance.
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available for Texas residents whose jobs were affected by Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas, specifically those who live or work in the counties included in the major disaster declaration. This may include people not normally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed persons and farm-workers. They can apply for unemployment benefits online at https://apps.twc.state.tx.us/UBS/security/logon.do.
  • Immediate Foreclosure Relief from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may be available for Texas residents. HUD is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages. There are approximately 200,000 FHA-insured homeowners living in these impacted counties that may be eligible. HUD is also offering longer-term recovery assistance to survivors and impacted communities. For more information, visit HUD’s website.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans – remind registrants to return SBA Loan Application, if they received one.  It is part of the registration process.

Property assistance:

  • The National Flood Insurance Program answers questions for policyholders about the claims process at 800-621-3362
  • Search for your insurance company contact information here to make property loss claims.
  • To find a towed car, click here or call 832-394-4869
  • For clean-up assistance, contact CrisisCleanup.org, or call 1-800-451-1954 to report your need. In unincorporated Harris County, call the Residential Debris and Damage Assessment Hotline: 713-274-3880.
  • USA.gov provides advice on replacing vital documents.
  • The Texas Department of Insurance has advice on what to do if your home or auto was damaged by Harvey, the insurance claims process and contractor fraud prevention and have extended their call center hours to 8 p.m. — 1-800-252-3439 or click here.

Additional Resources

  • American Red Cross - 1-877-500-8645, 866-526-8300 (Local Houston Office)
  • Salvation Army713-752-0677
  • 2-1-1 TEXAS/UNITED WAY HELPLINEDial 2-1-1.
  • Rebuildinghouston.org helps senior, disabled and  veteran homeowners in Harris County with home rebuilding efforts. Call 713.659.2511 for more information.
  • Airbnb is helping find temporary housing for those displaced by the floods. +1-415-800-5959 call +1-855-424-7262 (toll-free)
  • Those eligible for FEMA's Transitional Shelter Assistance program may be able to stay at a participating hotel free of charge temporarily if they are unable to return home. For a list of participating hotels, click here. Contact FEMA to apply and with questions: 1-800-462-7585.
  • Harris County Housing and Community Resource Center helps with locating emergency shelter, rental property and financial assistance. Call them at 713-696-1998.