FEMA finalizes factors for state individual assistance awards
On March 21, 2019, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a final rule revising the factors it uses to determine whether to recommend provision of individual assistance (IA) awards during a major disaster.
When a catastrophe occurs in a state, the state’s governor may request a presidential declaration of a major disaster. Such a request must be based on a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments and that federal assistance is necessary. A major disaster declaration will identify the types of assistance that are authorized under the declaration, including IA and the programs under the IA umbrella. IA programs include temporary housing, home repair/replacement assistance, crises counseling, disaster case management, disaster legal services and disaster unemployment assistance.
FEMA is revising the current IA award determination factors to provide additional clarity regarding the considerations that FEMA has evaluated in recent years and adding new factors intended to help FEMA more accurately and consistently determine whether the impact of an event is beyond state and local government capabilities. Specifically, the rule revises the factors considered from concentration of damages, trauma, special populations, voluntary agency assistance, insurance, and average amount of individual assistance by state to state fiscal capability and resource availability, uninsured home and personal property losses, disaster-impacted population profile, impact to community infrastructure, casualties, and disaster-related unemployment.
The rule clarifies that no single data point or factor will be determinative of the FEMA’s recommendation and that the final factors do not limit the president’s discretion. The final rule is available here.