Houses of worship may qualify for FEMA help

Published 4:00 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

Qualifying houses of worship in Mississippi may be eligible for FEA grants to cover hurricane-related expenses.

Grants through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program can cover costs to repair or replace facilities damaged during a disaster. The program is primarily funded by FEMA and administered through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

The Request for Public Assistance deadline for Hurricane Ida is Nov. 21.

FEMA defines religious facilities as a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other house of worship without regard to the religious character of the facility. Help with repairs and replacement costs may be available in counties designated for the FEMA Public Assistance Program — Lincoln, Lawrence, Copiah, Jefferson, Franklin, Amite, Pike, Walthall, Jefferson Davis, Claiborne, Covington, George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Simpson, Wayne and Wilkinson.

To be eligible, a house of worship must:

• Be owned or operated by a nonprofit.

• Have damage caused by Hurricane Ida between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1.

• Have either not received funding or received insufficient funding after applying for a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan to repair or replace a facility.

• Provide a current ruling letter from the IRS granting tax exemption under Section 501 (c), (d) or (e) of the IRS Code, or provide documentation from the state confirming it is a nonprofit.

Houses of worship may contact MEMA for details on how to apply for FEMA assistance. They can get more information or submit their RPA online by visiting www.msema.org/about/public-assistance.

U.S. Small Business Adminstration low-interest disaster loans are available for certain nonprofits with up to $2 million of property damage. Apply online at sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. For questions and assistance completing an application, call 800-659-2955 or email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov.