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For Storm Survivors, Permanent Housing is the Goal

BIRMINGHAM, AL – August 16, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — For Alabamians affected by the April storms and tornadoes, now is the time to work toward a permanent housing plan. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency encourage you to consider all options available, including local resources, in making a long-term plan.

Save money. Save receipts. Stay in touch.

“Finding and securing permanent housing can be a daunting task, especially for disaster survivors,” said Jeff Byard, state coordinating officer for AEMA. “It can be tough to know where to begin. Three things survivors can do now to begin the process is to save money, save receipts and stay in touch.”

Whether you’re looking for long-term rental housing, rebuilding your home or looking to buy a home, the first thing you should do is begin setting aside as much money as you can. By saving up, you’ll be better prepared to act when you find a housing solution that fits your needs.

It’s very important to document your recovery costs, especially if you’ve received grant money from FEMA. Make sure to save receipts from supplies, contractor work and any other disaster-related expenses. This will help state, federal and voluntary agencies provide further assistance.

Some survivors may not know where to go for help. You can stay in touch with FEMA by contacting your caseworker or by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585. Phone lines are available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.

Different situations call for different plans of action. If you have received rental assistance through FEMA, the following steps will assist you in securing a permanent housing plan.

If you are looking for rental housing:

  • Document all attempts to find permanent housing. Every time you call a landlord, write it down. Not every home will fit your needs, but you must make the attempt.

If you have found rental housing:

  • Update your status with FEMA by contacting your caseworker or calling the helpline. FEMA needs to know of any changes.

If you are a homeowner rebuilding your home:

  • Ensure that you have all required permits and find a reliable and reputable contractor. FEMA does not certify contractors.
  • If you are living in your home, you may use your rental assistance grant to assist in the rebuilding of your home.
  • If you applied for a Small Business Administration loan, check the status of your application. Call the SBA toll free at 800-659-2955 or (800-877-8339 TTY).
  • If you were denied an SBA loan, you may be eligible for more federal assistance. Call the FEMA helpline for more information.

Resources to help find permanent housing

“There are a variety of resources for survivors who need assistance,” said Michael Byrne, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. “Doing your research and finding the best fit for you and your family will make a big difference in your recovery.”

Housing resources can be found online at the FEMA housing portal at http://go.usa.gov/Khe. The housing portal is an online tool that allows you to search rental housing in your area. You can search for properties by bedroom, price, and location. The portal combines rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies, private organizations and the public.

To provide practical housing solutions, the State of Alabama has created an initiative using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development online database at http://www.HudHomeStore.com/HudHome/Index.aspx. Here you can locate foreclosed homes and get information on how to use federal disaster grant money to purchase a home. Homes that need repair will then be referred to volunteers in the state to perform those repairs. For more information, visit the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs website, http://ADECA.alabama.gov.

Survivors with functional needs who require assistance finding and moving into permanent housing or help with rebuilding are asked to call Alabama Connects 2-1-1 for help from voluntary agencies.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

ADECA administers numerous programs to strengthen Alabama communities and has been named the state coordinator for long-term community recovery.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.