White House Extends Order Directing FEMA to Reimburse Full COVID-19 Costs Including Sheltering for People Experiencing Homelessness

In a memo released by the White House on August 17, President Biden announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would continue to cover fully the eligible costs related to coronavirus activities through the end of the year, including costs associated with non-congregate sheltering for individuals experiencing homelessness.

As a result of the national emergency declaration for COVID-19 issued by President Trump in March of 2020, FEMA activated its Public Assistance (PA) grant program to provide assistance to state, territorial, tribal, and local government entities and certain private nonprofit organizations as they work to respond to the pandemic. Over the past year and a half, state and local governments have used PA funds, along with other federal and state funding streams, to move people experiencing homelessness – in both shelters or encampments – and others living in congregate settings into hotel rooms and other non-congregate shelters to isolate and quarantine people safely.

NLIHC and our national, state, and local partners in the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) had urged FEMA to cover the full costs of moving individuals living in congregate settings or encampments to safer living spaces in hotels and motels. In a major win for individuals experiencing homelessness, advocates, and state and local officials, President Biden directed FEMA to cover 100% of approved costs in an executive order issued in January of 2020. While this change assisted many jurisdictions currently struggling with non-congregate sheltering costs and actively save lives during the ongoing pandemic, the overall program has remained underutilized in many places around the country. The original order was set to expire at the end of September; the subsequent announcement extends the policy through December 31.

It is important to note that this extension covers only non-congregate sheltering activities conducted under the COVID-19 emergency declaration, not sheltering due to subsequent or future disasters. The extension does not change the number of pandemic-related activities eligible for reimbursement from FEMA, nor does it change the reimbursement approval or evaluation process for cities, states, and certain nonprofit organizations currently facilitating non-congregate shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Learn more about FEMA’s Public Assistance program and best practices for non-congregate shelter at: https://bit.ly/3swS10m

Read the executive order extending 100% reimbursements at: https://bit.ly/2XzklUg