Oppressed By Wildfire: Homeless People Left Out Of Federal Disaster Aid Programs

  • Source: Jefferson Public Radio
  • Published: 09/20/2019 12:00 AM

When a major wildfire burns into an urban area, federal disaster officials are quick to offer financial help to people who lose their homes. But not everyone is eligible for aid after a wildfire. In fact, if you don’t have a home address, there’s a good chance you can’t even get into a shelter. It turns out the Federal Emergency Management Administration doesn’t provide disaster aid to people who were homeless prior to a disaster. “Unless people are made homeless by a declared disaster, assistance for pre-disaster homelessness does not fall within the rules, policies, and guidance for eligibility to receive Stafford Act assistance,” a FEMA spokesperson wrote in an email to JPR. The Stafford Act is a federal law outlining how federal natural disaster aid can be spent.


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