Disaster Recovery Resources
FEMA Disaster Assistance
Texans in federally declared disaster areas can apply for help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those who are uninsured should apply as soon as possible. Those who have insurance should file their claims with their insurance prior to applying with FEMA. This assistance program can not duplicate insurance benefits. If their insurance does not cover all losses or is delayed, they may be eligible and should apply. FEMA can provide housing assistance, repair, replacement, and other needs assistance.
Where to Apply
Individuals may apply online and check the status of their application by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov. If safe, we encourage the applicant to document any damage through photos and keep receipts from all purchases related to any cleanup and repair done. It is reported to take on average of 20 minutes to complete the application. However, this can vary depending on if the documents needed are available and various factors. The applicant will need: Phone number, address at time of disaster, Social Security Number, financial information, insurance policy number (if applicable), and a general list of damages and losses. Please see attachment, FEMA Application Process, for further information.
To qualify the applicant or someone in the household must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien ( a green card holder) at the time of the disaster. A child who meets this criteria will qualify a household for assistance, even if the family or other member do not. The family must file the application on the child’s behalf and all identification documents have to be in the child’s name and Social Security number.
If it is not possible to register online, please call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). This toll-free line operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Please use the standard toll-free FEMA Helpline listed if you using 711 or Video Relay Service. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a Text Telephone (TTY), may call 800-462-7585.
What happens after an Application is submitted?
Applicants whose home are safely inhabitable and reported minimal damage will receive a decision letter in the mail. Those with severe damage will receive a call from a FEMA inspector after applying. Inspectors will ask if the applicant is available to discuss the reported damage or schedule a follow-up call. They should have the registration number available and expect the call to take at least 20-30 minutes. Applicants may be scheduled for a virtual home inspection. Please see attached document, Individuals and Households Program Remote Inspections, for more information on virtual home inspections and Covid-19 safety precautions. After this process if completed, a decision letter will be sent in the mail.
Important note: Inspectors will not ask for credit card information. FEMA inspections are free. Contact the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline to report suspicious activity by calling 1-866-720-5721.
If an applicant receives a letter stating that they are ineligible for assistance and believe this is inaccurate, an appeal can be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision letter. Visit https://www.fema.gov/assistance/individual/after-applying/appeals to learn more about the appeal process.
Business Disaster Loans
Businesses damaged from the winter storm are eligible for assistance in the form of a low-interest federal disaster loans. To be considered for all forms of assistance, Texans should first contact and apply with FEMA using the above process. Business owners will be referred to and can apply with the U.S. Small Business Administration at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/.
Applicants should call (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com with an questions regarding the application process.
Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (D-SNAP) is available for households in counties declared a federal disaster area. Current SNAP customers who had food lost or destroyed due to the winter storm can request a benefit replacement. Applications must be submitted by March 31. Recipients will continue to receive a 15 percent increase in their total benefits, which will continue until June 2021. This increase should appear in eligible recipients’ accounts by March 31.
Where to Apply
The best way to apply is by calling 211 and select option 2. Recipients can also download Form H1855 (Affidavit for Nonreceipt or Destroyed Food Stamp Benefits) from the Health and Human Service Commission website and mail or fax it to HHSC. PO Box 149027, Austin, TX, 78714-9027, Fax #: 1-877-447-2839. Those in food insecure households can submit their initial SNAP application by visiting www.yourtexasbenifits.com.
SNAP recipients in the 66 counties have been approved for automatic replacement benefits and do not need to call 211 or apply for replacement benefits. Blanco County residents are included in this list and do not need to apply. Hays County residents need to take action as soon as possible and call or submit an application before the deadline.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Texans in disaster areas who lost their jobs and have been unable to work due to damage from the winter storm may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). All applications must be submitted by March 26 to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Visit https://www.twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/disaster-unemployment-assistance for additional information on DUA.
Who is Eligible
Eligibility for DUA is based off of the following list as a direct result of the winter storm. TWC will assess eligibility for regular benefits before DUA can be received.
- You lost your job, which was more than 50% of your total income.
- You live in, work in, or travel through the disaster area.
- Your place of employment was damaged or closed.
- You were scheduled to start work but the job no longer exists or you can no longer reach the new job.
- You suffered injury or incapacitation.
- You became the breadwinner or major support of the household due to the death of the head of household.
Where to Apply
The fastest and easiest way to apply is online at ui.texasworkforce.org. If an account is not already made, one will need to be created. Applicants should specify the application is related to damage caused by the winter storm during the application. All required documentation to support the claim must be submitted within 21 days from the day the application is filed.
To apply over the phone call 1-800-939-6631 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. This method is only meant for applicants who do not have access to a computer or need additional assistance.
Texas Rent Relief
The Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs has launched the Texas Rent Relief Program. Funds are available for landlords and tenants to provide both rental and utilities assistance. Application availability began on February 15, 2021, and will remain open until all available funds have been exhausted.
What will it cover?
The program will help renters with the following costs as far back as March 13, 2020. Meaning those in need can potentially request assistance for up to a year of past due bills. Payments will be made directly to the landlord and/or utility provider.
- Past due, current, and up to 3 months of future rent costs
- Past due, current, and up to 3 months of expected utility and home energy expenses
- After the initial 3 months of forward assistance, an application for 3 additional months can be submitted. Applicants must reapply every 3 months for forward assistance and acceptance is dependent on the availability of funds.
Where to Apply
For more information and to apply visit texasrentrelief.com. There is a separate application process for landlords and tenants. See attached document, TRR-Required-Documents-Checklist, for required documentation which can be submitted through the online application or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For those without access to internet or who need additional assistance, call 1-833-989-7368. The phone line is open from Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m CST. Staff will answer questions and provide assistance completing the application. Required documentation will be accepted by postal mail at the following address: 785 Greens Pkwy, Houston, Texas 77067. Help is available in multiple languages.
Who is eligible?
Eligible households must have been affected directly by the Covid-19 pandemic and have an income no more than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Prioritization will be offered to those with incomes at or below 50% AMI, or households where one or more members are unemployed as of the date applied for assistance, and households with one or more members unemployed for 90 days prior to the date applied for assistance. We encourage everyone in need to apply for assistance. Proof of U.S. residency is not required.
Please utilize the eligibility tool by visiting the Texas Rent Relief’s homepage, and scrolling down until “Do I Qualify?”. A series of questions will be asked to determine eligibility prior to the application.
Texas Eviction Diversion Program
This program has additionally set aside funds for the Texas Eviction Diversion Program (TEDP), which provides an alternative to eviction and helps tenants stay in their homes. Both the tenant and the landlord must agree to participate. Tenants who are behind on rent due to the Covid-19 pandemic and being sued for eviction are eligible. For more information on eligibility requirements view the attached document TRR-Eviction-Diversion-Program. Application should be submitted using the same methods as the Texas Rent Relief Program.
Still have questions? Visit the Texas Rent Relief program’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage. https://texasrentrelief.com/faq/
Unemployment Tax Break
As part of the American Rescue Plan recently passed, Texans who received unemployment benefits may be eligible for a tax waiver up to $10,200. To be eligible those must have made less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income for 2020. For those who have already filed their 2020 taxes and are eligible, we are awaiting more guidance from the IRS on next steps. Please do not file an amendment at this time.
Tax Deadline Extension
Texans impacted by the winter storm in federally declared disaster counties have received a tax deadline extension until June 15, 2021. This includes 2020 business returns, normally due on March 15 and individual and business returns normally due on April 15.
For more information visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-announces-tax-relief-for-texas-severe-winter-storm-victims.
— From Representative Zwiener, District 45