Disaster assistance for victims of natural disasters

Friday, September 01, 2017

 

Once the physical safety of you and your loved ones is secure, here are some resources to help you protect your home and recover your losses.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's financial toolkit is a great place to start once you have addressed your most urgent recovery needs. It outlines steps to take to secure your home and finances and lists the organizations that will help you immediately following a natural disaster. The toolkit also lists questions to ask to help you avoid scammers and fraud.

FEMA assistance: Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated disaster areas can begin applying for financial assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency by registering online at: www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) between of 7:00 am and 10:00 pm, seven days a week.

Unemployment assistance: Did you miss work because of the storm? The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Applications for DUA benefits must be submitted by September 29, 2017. For information or to submit a claim, visit TWC’s website or call TWC Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 1-800-939-6631.

HOUSING

Foreclosure prevention: The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance (delay) on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages.

HUD will also make FHA mortgage insurance available to victims who have lost their homes and are forced to rebuild or buy another home in the following counties: Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton. 

All HUD participating housing counselors can access resource links, disaster recovery and emergency preparedness information specifically for housing counseling programs via the Hurricane Harvey Resource Page and the Housing Counseling Disaster Recovery Toolkit.

For more information on the agency’s disaster relief plan, please visit HUD’s website.

For a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

Fannie Mae is suspending evictions and foreclosure sales for 90 days for borrowers with properties that are eligible for FEMA assistance.

Additionally, mortgage servicers may temporarily suspend a homeowner’s mortgage payments for up to 90 days, under Fannie Mae’s disaster relief guidelines. 

If the Hurricane has damaged a homeowner’s property, impacted a homeowner’s ability to make mortgage payments or live in the property, borrowers should reach out to their mortgage servicer as soon as possible. They can also contact Fannie Mae directly at-800-2FANNIE. For additional resources for homeowners, visit Fannie Mae.

Freddie Mac is also suspending evictions and foreclosure sales for 90 days for borrowers with homes in eligible disaster areas.

It is authorizing mortgage servicers to extend forbearance and repayment plans for up to 12 months, and to waive penalties, late fees and property inspection fees for borrowers with disaster-damaged homes. Borrowers should contact their mortgage servicer to discuss mortgage relief options. 

Hope LoanPort (HLP) has made significant changes to its platform in response to the recent events surrounding Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and the wildfires in the western United States. Homeowners affected by recent natural disasters may be able to suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months or take advantage of other relief offers from their mortgage servicer. HLP has developed a streamlined Disaster Assistance Form that will allow homeowners to submit information about their situation and the condition of their home through a single, short informational form that does not require any documents. Go to HomeownerConnect.org to fill out the Disaster Assistance Request Form. Once completed online, the form will be sent to your mortgage servicer. Have more questions? Email [email protected]

 

INSURANCE CLAIMS

Unfortunately, most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage, but do cover storm-related damage from wind and rain. If you are one of the 17 percent of Houstonians with flood insurance, you may be wondering what is covered and what is not. Typcially home essentials like furniture, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are covered, however items located in your basement and crawl spaces may be excluded.

Consumer Reports breaks down what you need to know before filing a flood insurance claim.

Tips for filing claims
For homeowners, renters and car owners with insurance, experts recommend filing claims as soon as possible--even if you haven’t accessed your damaged property yet. You may call your insurance company or agent to file claims or file claims online or via mobile apps. Ask the agent when you can expect to be visited by an insurance adjuster who will come out to assess the damage. Take as many pictures of the damage as you can and create an inventory list. Save all receipts, including those for temporary home repairs or additional living expenses (like motel, rental car and meal expenses). Don’t throw away any damaged property without properly documenting the damage via photo or video. Keep a record of every insurance person you speak with noting their name, the date and time you spoke and the issues you discussed.

TAXES

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced those in Texas who have been affected by the storm have until January 31, 2018 to file certain individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers who had a valid extension for their 2016 return, due by Oct. 16. For more information, please visit the IRS.

 

 
 
 

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