AUSTIN, TX – November 10, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program is drawing to a close in Texas, but FEMA and the state are working closely with wildfire survivors in the program to help them find suitable housing before the Dec. 9 end date.
Since it took effect Sept. 9, nearly 400 wildfire survivors and their families have participated in the TSA program. The initiative provides short-term hotel/motel stays for eligible Texans whose homes or apartments were severely damaged or destroyed in the fires. Participants’ continued eligibility for TSA is re-evaluated regularly, so the program could end earlier for some.
“TSA has given many Texans who lost everything in the wildfires time to evaluate their future housing options, and we’re grateful for that,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. “However, we’d like to see survivors have a real place to call home by the holidays. For that to occur, we need to work together.”
Wildfire survivors in the TSA program and in all 23 counties designated for Individual Assistance under the major disaster declaration are urged to call the Texas 2-1-1 Helpline to get matched with a case manager who can help them work toward finding longer-term housing as well as goods and services to aid in addressing unmet needs. When they reach 2-1-1 and select a language, they should choose option No. 1 for “resources.”
“Matching TSA participants with a personal case manager is just one of several ways FEMA and the state are working to help families progress from hotels to homes,” said Hannes. “We encourage Texans to take advantage of this excellent service, which is offered free of charge to wildfire survivors.”
FEMA Community Relations specialists armed with fliers also have visited hotels occupied by TSA participants to spread the word about the case management service and urge people to call 2-1-1.
In addition, Individual Assistance specialists are contacting each TSA participant and providing them up to nine rental resources in their area. FEMA is exploring every reasonable means of locating rental resources in and around wildfire-stricken areas, including the Internet, classified ads, local housing authorities and public-sector property management offices. A team of FEMA housing specialists is sent to verify the rental resources before a location is provided to survivors.
Several dozen wildfire survivors and their families also have been approved for temporary manufactured housing, most of which are being placed on the survivor’s own property while they rebuild their destroyed homes.
Survivors can register for FEMA assistance, or check the status of an existing registration, online at www.disasterassistance.gov or via smart phone at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. The toll free telephone numbers operate 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. The deadline to register with FEMA is Dec. 8.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
The mission of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety, is to support the citizens of Texas and local jurisdictions as they plan for, respond to, recover from and mitigate the impacts of all hazards, emergencies and disasters. For more information, see: www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.