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Starting March 22, 2024, FEMA will implement new rules intended to provide quicker and more straightforward access to disaster relief for individuals. 

In summary, the major changes are: 

  • Homeowners with inadequate insurance coverage can apply to FEMA for disaster relief.
  • Self-employed individuals will no longer have to apply for an SBA loan before applying for FEMA disaster relief (with a cap of $42,500).
  • Immediate “serious needs assistance” available to individuals, up to $750.
  • Removal of “pre-existing conditions” limitations for property damage and repairs under the “habitability” criteria.
  • New disaster relief for displacement assistance.
  • Simplification and flexibility for disaster relief applications, temporary housing assistance and appeals.

FEMA also announced immediate improvements to its online system to promote efficiency, accessibility, and simplicity. While these improvements are widely viewed as a step in the right direction, the cost to FEMA is over $670 million annually. Without an increase in annual appropriations, this increased cost may require cuts and reductions elsewhere.   

Our Crisis Preparedness and Response team urges you to prepare for a disaster in advance and to continuously review and evaluate your disaster plan. 

For additional information and recommendations for disaster planning, you can view an Adams and Reese webinar presented in 2023 at “Natural Disaster Preparedness – What Businesses Should Do Now to Prepare and Respond.”

Read the official FEMA press release

Additional Articles of Interest

About Our Authors

Chris Kane is one of the leading members of the Adams and Reese Crisis Preparedness and Response Team, along with serving as the team leader of Global Trade, Transportation and Logistics. Chris represents clients on economic development, transportation law, construction law, regulatory and government relations, disaster recovery, and litigation. Chris is the current board chair of GNO, Inc.

Michael Berson is a leading member of the Adams and Reese GR team, experienced in government relations, federal funding, economic development, city, county, and local government laws. Michael represents businesses, municipalities, airport and port authorities, nonprofits, education and charter school clients, and other governmental entities including water and sewer authorities, utilities boards and industrial development boards. He formerly served as director of government affairs and associate general counsel of the SBA.

Hunter Schoen is a member of the Adams and Reese IBG Practice, focusing on regulatory law, labor and employment, disaster recovery, and commercial litigation. Hunter also works closely with businesses to provide advice and legal solutions that are proactive and account for a business’ overall goals, extending to regulatory advice, drafting and reviewing agreements, and representing businesses in litigation and before regulatory bodies.