Faith-based organizations, in addition to other community, volunteer, and nonprofit organizationsin 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 private nonprofit organizations conducting critical and essential services of a governmental nature 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.

Types of organizations which provide critical services that may qualify for FEMA PA grants include:

  • Private schools that provide elementary or secondary education or an institution of higher education;
  • Hospitals and other medical-treatment facilities; and
  • Utilities including water, sewer, and electrical systems.

 Types of non-critical, essential services that may be eligible for Public Assistance grants include:

  • Senior citizen and community centers or other community services;
  • Food programs;
  • Educational enrichment activities;
  • Custodial and day care services;
  • Disability residential services;
  • Assisted living and low-income housing;
  • Homeless shelters and rehabilitation services; and
  • Performing and community arts centers.

Additionally, when any organization, such as faith-based organizations, schools, or community centers, provide emergency protective measures such as sheltering and feeding survivors on behalf of state, local, tribal, or territorial governments, FEMA may reimburse the costs of those services to the state, local, tribal, or territorial government. The government and the organization must enter into an agreement for these services, even if the agreement is post-event; and the government could then reimburse the organization. 

Only organizations with state or IRS tax-exempt status may be considered.  For more information about eligible essential and critical service providers, go online to FEMA.gov and reference the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.

Organizations that provide services of a non-critical, essential governmental nature must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 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.

The SBA may provide up to $2 million to most private nonprofits in the form of low interest disaster loans.  To learn more about and apply for an SBA loan go online to sba.gov/disaster or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.  If you cannot access the website, call 800-659-2955. If you use TTY, call 800-877-8339.

The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your faith-based, community, volunteer or other private nonprofit organization is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the state, tribe, or territory within the deadline, typically 30 days after designation of the area but it may be extended.  Information on the RPA deadline is updated on state, tribe or territory emergency management websites. Faith-based organizations should contact their state, local, tribal, or territorial emergency management office for more information.

For more information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page, theFEMA Harvey Facebook page, the @FEMARegion6 Twitter account, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management website.

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