Thursday, November 29, 2007

State Grant Program Gives Funds to California Wildfire Victims

FEMA Release Date: November 28, 2007
Release Number: 1731-050

PASADENA, Calif. -- The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has begun awarding grants to individuals and households through the State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP), officials with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) announced today.

The State of California's SSGP may provide assistance to those who have additional eligible losses after receiving the maximum grant award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Individuals and Households Program.

So far, nearly $1.3 million in grants have been approved, with the majority of those being the maximum grant award of $10,000.

"These additional funds provided by the California Department of Social Services will assist many Californians who were the unfortunate victims of these devastating wildfires," said CDSS Director John Wagner.

"We are proud to be one of the few states that have a state grant for disasters, one that supplements the federal dollars to help individuals and families rebuild from such a devastating loss," said Henry Renteria, Director of OES and State Coordinating Officer for the fire recovery effort.

There is no separate application process and applications will be forwarded from FEMA to CDSS. The state grants will not duplicate benefits. The maximum grant from the State is $10,000.

Every recipient receives a letter from CDSS prior to receiving the money outlining the following categories for using the funds.

Housing - such as:

~Repairs to return the home to a safe and functional condition: These may include repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems, or other structural parts of a home;

~Reimbursement for hotel or motel lodging expenses if their home was damaged as a direct result of the disaster: Receipts for these expenses are required; and

~Rebuilding a home that has been completely destroyed.

Personal Property - such as:
~Specialized tools for employment;
~Household items and appliances;
~Vehicle repair or replacement;
~Medical, dental and funeral expenses; and
~Moving expenses and other disaster-related needs.

Rental Assistance:

Applicants who must remain in temporary housing until their home can be re-occupied or their permanent housing arrangements can be made may request additional rental assistance. Applicants must provide verification of their permanent housing progress and can only receive rental assistance up to their SSGP maximum.

State grants are tax-free and are not loans. They are not counted as income for welfare or for other federal and/or state benefit programs and cannot be garnished.

All expenditures must be disaster-related. If not, the recipient may have to pay back the grant, and may lose eligibility for further help. Grants are subject to audit and recipients are strongly encouraged to fully document their disaster-related expenses. They must keep receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how all the money was used in meeting disaster-related needs.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

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