When you apply for recertification for continued FEMA rent assistance you are required to provide income and housing expenses . What FEMA does not explain in the forms is how they will use that information to determine if they will give you more rent assistance. However, through various conversations with FEMA I have a good indication of their “formula” which I think is worth knowing about.
Their calculation is simple:
- Take GROSS income
- Subtract housing costs
- If the housing costs are greater that 30% of gross income you are eligible
For example, monthly gross income is $4,000. Housing cost is $1,300. 30% of gross income is $1,200. You are eligible because you are $100 over the $1,200 number.
The interesting thing is that if your housing cost was $1,200.01 (one penny over the threshold) you are eligible. If your housing cost was $1,199.99 (one penny below the threshold) you are denied rent assistance
It is an all or nothing determination with FEMA. You either qualify or you don’t. There is no proration of benefits.
It is in your best interest to make sure that you account for every legitimate housing cost to try to get above the 30% threshold.
If your gross income is high or expenses low and it looks like you won’t qualify according to your own calculations you may still want to apply because I am not FEMA and there may be other parts to their equation that are still hidden.
If you are denied you can appeal. FEMA has alluded to other circumstances that could result in a successful appeal such as large medical expenses (which are not asked for in the initial report form). There may be other things that could cause an appeal to go your way.