In an Executive Order released last month, President Biden announced that FEMA would be fully covering eligible costs related to coronavirus-related non-congregate sheltering for individuals experiencing homelessness through its FEMA Public Assistance (PA). NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel spoke with the White House and FEMA to confirm that the change will apply retroactively to completed coronavirus-related non-congregate sheltering from January of 2020 through the present – a change that would have not been possible without the advocacy of the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) and its members and partners. Typically, PA funding covers 75% of eligible costs, and state or local governments are required to pay the remaining 25%. This change means that state and local governments will receive 100% reimbursement for all approved non-congregate sheltering costs they have incurred since the start of the pandemic through September 30, 2021.
For projects that have already been approved, FEMA will amend the existing awards to adjust the federal funding amounts. In a statement clarifying President Biden’s directive on the subject, FEMA stated that the agency would handle award adjustment on its own and no action is needed from grantees to receive this additional reimbursement. FEMA also updated and extended their policy for disaster-related non-congregate sheltering, which the agency has been using to ensure that survivors of disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires can safely shelter without further spreading the coronavirus.
This policy change will enable states and communities to address the urgent health and housing needs of people experiencing homelessness and other residents of congregate facilities during the pandemic. Over the past year, advocates and elected officials have used the FEMA PA program to move people experiencing homelessness into hotel rooms and other non-congregate shelters to safely isolate and quarantine. FEMA’s move to provide 100% reimbursement for the cost of non-congregate sheltering in hotel and motels and apply this reimbursement retroactively will mean that additional areas of the country can access and expand this important program that quite literally is saving lives.