NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition Calls on FEMA to Release Guidance, Extend Full Reimbursement for Non-Congregate Sheltering

NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell expressing frustration at the agency’s failure to release substantive guidance on Public Assistance (PA) reimbursements and requesting that the agency move to extend the 100% PA reimbursements to state and local governments through June 2022. That order is currently set to expire on September 31. The letter was sent on behalf of the NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) – a group of over 850 local, state, and national organizations working to ensure that all disaster survivors receive the assistance they need to fully recover – and comes as many cities have sought to end non-congregate sheltering and move individuals back to congregate shelters and care facilities, despite low vaccination rates in many areas and a lack of data ensuring such environments are safe.

Congregate care facility residents and individuals experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 related death, prompting advocates to urge state and local governments to move individuals into hotels or other non-congregate sheltering to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection. Acknowledging the importance of these strategies, FEMA modified its PA policies to allow state and local governments to request full reimbursement for the cost of non-congregate sheltering. While FEMA initially approved payments at 75% cost-share, the amount was later increased to 100% through President Biden’s January 21 Executive Order, an increase that will expire on September 31. Efforts to ensure that hotel rooms were available for medically vulnerable individuals unable to isolate safely, were also slowed by FEMA’s failure to release specific guidance covering the program, forcing local and state administrators to rely only on rumors, or out-of-date and unrelated FEMA documents.

“While some cities have begun to phase out non-congregate sheltering programs, COVID-19 continues to pose a grave danger to those individuals residing in congregate living environments, including people experiencing homelessness and people with disabilities, due to low vaccination rates and high levels of medical vulnerability among these populations” the letter states. “I urge FEMA to immediately release its guidance and extend the 100% PA reimbursement policy through June 2022 so that state and local governments can make use of this historic measure to safely and stably house people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic and transition people experiencing homelessness to permanent housing solutions rather than back to congregate shelters.”

This letter echoes the requests of California Governor Gavin Newsom, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, El Centro Mayor Cheryl Viegas-Walker, and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, who sent a similar letter to FEMA last month.

Read the letter to FEMA Administrator Criswell here:

Read the letter sent by California Governor Gavin Newsom, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, El Centro Mayor Cheryl Viegas-Walker, and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore at:

Find out more about FEMA reimbursements for non-congregate sheltering here: