"In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, FEMA is moving to establish
and implement operational changes that will allow us to get disaster
victims the help they need -- especially housing assistance," FEMA
Director R. David Paulison said. "This will give us more flexibility
in our ability to provide effective housing assistance to disaster
victims when FEMA's rental rate ceilings do not correspond with
local market rates for rental housing."
This means FEMA will be able to increase the authorized amount of
rental assistance when it determines that higher market rates have
affected the availability of affordable rental housing. This
authority applies to counties designated for individual assistance
in the disaster declaration, as well as to non-designated counties
that are hosting eligible disaster victims.
The agency's rental assistance rates are based on the Department
of Housing and Urban Development's published fair market rent rate
for existing rental units. However, when a disaster affects housing
availability, prevailing market rates may rise above the HUD fair
market rate, making it difficult for disaster victims to find
affordable rental housing.
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The emergency exceptions to the HUD fair market rate will remain
in effect until the department conducts a market analysis of the
affected area. If the Department of Housing and Urban Development
identifies a new rate, FEMA will rescind the emergency exception and
implement the HUD rate.
The Federal Emergency Management
Agency manages federal response and recovery efforts following
any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities,
works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the
National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.
Emergency Management Agency news release]