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January 23, 2024Advocacy Matters

FEMA Announces Reforms to Disaster Support Programs

FEMA Announces Reforms to Disaster Support Programs

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

Tuesday, January 23, 2004


FEMA Announces Reforms to Disaster Support Programs

In a bid to improve its disaster response capabilities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has recently proposed a series of reforms aimed at strengthening its disaster support programs.  These reforms are set to revolutionize the way FEMA operates, ensuring more efficient and effective assistance to communities in times of crisis.

The reforms were announced on Friday, January 19, 2024.  These changes reimagine how FEMA supports people in a disaster and will allow survivors quicker access to federal funds, expand eligibility for property and home repairs, and streamline their application process so individuals can jumpstart their recovery from disasters.

The changes to the Individual Assistance program were the result of stakeholder meetings dating back to 2021 and the increase in number of disasters annually. FEMA collected feedback from disaster survivors, stakeholders, and communities like the disability community. Everyone wanted a simpler program to assist survivors as they recover from disasters. According to FEMA, a disaster occurs, on average, every 10 days (about 1 and a half weeks).

Overall, the changes:

  1. Provide flexible funding to survivors when they need it the most, right after the disaster strikes. FEMA will offer $750 to cover immediate expenses after a disaster.
  2. Cuts red tape and expands eligibility.
  3. Simply the application process.

For people with disabilities, FEMA will now allow survivors to use federal funds to make their homes more accessible than they may have been prior to the disaster. Funds can be used to go beyond restoration by including enhancements.

FEMA also has relaxed requirements to extend stay in FEMA provided, non-congregate housing.

FEMA will provide more support to underinsured survivors. Survivors can get up to $42,500 to cover home repairs that insurance companies will not pay for.


As we face an increasingly unpredictable climate and growing number of natural disasters, FEMA’s proposed reforms will strengthen their ability to respond to disasters and ensure affected communities like the disability community, receive the support they need to recover and rebuild.

FEMA has issued the interim rules and provided a 2-month period for public comment now.

The new rules will take effect for any disaster that happens on or after March 22, 2024.

For all the information about the new FEMA rules and to submit your public comment, go to and click on today’s #AdvocacyMatters segment.


FEMA Interim Final Rule

Public Comment

FEMA Press Release