Nonprofit Houses Of Worship Eligible To Apply For FEMA Public Assistance

Nonprofit Houses of Worship in North Carolina Now Eligible to Apply for FEMA Public Assistance in the wake of Hurricane Florence

October 11, 2018 Post:
Press Release (PDF)

The Stafford Act has been revised to include a FEMA policy update made houses of worship, like other community, volunteer and private, nonprofit organizations, eligible to apply for potential funding to help with certain disaster-related costs under FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program. What is the Public Assistance grant program?

  • Public Assistance (PA) reimburses state, tribal, territorial, and local governments, and certain types of private nonprofit (PNP) organizations for 75 percent of eligible disasterrelated expenses.
  • PA grants help pay for efforts to protect people and property, clean up neighborhoods and repair roads and bridges.
  • For the Hurricane Florence disaster declaration in North Carolina, the Public Assistance program is funded by FEMA and administered by North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM).

Eligibility requirements for houses of worship
To be an eligible applicant, a house of worship must:

  • Provide a current ruling letter from the IRS granting tax exemption under Section 501 (c) (d) or (e) of the IRS Code of 1954, or through the North Carolina Secretary of State.
  • Be owned or operated by a private nonprofit (PNP) organization.
  • Have facilities that sustained damage caused by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.
  • Have either not received funding or received insufficient funding after applying for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan.

SBA disaster loans are a critical part of the application process
For PNPs, including houses of worship, FEMA may only provide Public Assistance
funding for eligible Permanent Work costs that an SBA disaster loan will not cover.

  • Under the Stafford Act, PNP facilities including houses of worship, must apply to the SBA for a low-interest disaster loan for permanent repair work.
  • FEMA will provide financial assistance only if the house of worship is denied an SBA loan – or if the loan authorized is insufficient to cover repair costs.

Applicant briefings provide information about the application process

  • A representative of the house of worship must attend an applicant briefing hosted by NCEM. For additional details, including how to participate, contact your local emergency manager.
  • If a house of worship decides to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA after participating in an applicant briefing, it must submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA).

Request for Public Assistance Application

  • A form must be completed and submitted in the FEMA Grants Portal to be considered for disaster recovery assistance funding.
  • First, send an email to which includes the applicant’s first and last name, email address, phone number and organization name.
  • Then, look for an email invitation from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to submit an RPA.
  • Contact NCEM Public Assistance at with any questions on RPA submissions.
  • The deadline for PNPs to complete the RPA is Nov. 16, 2018.


October 1, 208 Post:
Press Release (PDF)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program provides supplemental assistance to states, tribes, and local governmental entities, as well as certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations. These PNP organizations and public entities, also known as applicants, may receive reimbursement funds to supplement the damages they incurred as a direct result of Florence. 

  1. Under a new rule in Public Assistance, Houses of Worship (HOW) may be eligible, provided the HOW has been granted tax exemption under Sections 501(c), (d), or (e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, or though the North Carolina Secretary of State.
  2. The State of North Carolina has been granted a Federal Declaration for the FEMA Public Assistance program due to the devastation of Hurricane Florence.
  3. To be considered for the FEMA PA program, HOW must fully demonstrate their history of providing activities to pursue items of mutual interest or concern or social engagement in their community and open to the general public, without regard to their secular or religious nature.
  4. Facilities established or primarily used for political, athletic, recreational, vocational, or academic training, conferences, or similar activities are not eligible.
  5. The eligible categories of work include debris removal & monitoring operations, emergency protective measures, buildings, content & equipment, roads & bridges, water control facilities, utilities, parks/recreation facilities and other eligible owned and maintained facilities.

A House of Worship that meets the aforementioned requirements may be eligible for reimbursement of their costs under the FEMA Public Assistance program. As with any noncritical PNP, and before seeking funds from the FEMA PA program, Houses of Worship must first apply to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to seek a low-interest loan to financially address their disaster-related needs. If no loan in granted, or not enough of a loan is allowed by the SBA, the HOW may then pursue reimbursement funding under FEMA PA.

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