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Rental assistance increased for Hurricane Sandy victims
By Insure.com staff

New York and New Jersey residents who need temporary housing after Hurricane Sandy will be eligible for additional rental assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Agency officials announced they will increase the amount of rental assistance for eligible disaster survivors in those states by 25 percent.

People in declared disaster counties who are registered for federal disaster aid and need help with paying rent can search the FEMA Housing Portal for places to live. The site is updated regularly, but families should still call the listed property owners to check on availability.

Federal rental assistance amounts are based on estimates of a market's cost of shelter and tenant-paid utilities, except telephone, cable and Internet service. The amount of assistance is supposed to be high enough to allow for a wide selection of available units, but low enough so that as many units as possible can be rented to low-income families.

After Sandy hit the Northeast, federal officials evaluated the number of units available in metropolitan New York and northern New Jersey and decided an increase in assistance was in order. FEMA expects the 25 percent increase in rental assistance will make 1,800 more rental units available in New York, and 1,200 more rental units available in New Jersey for families whose homes were rendered inhabitable by the storm.

The FEMA website provides information about disaster assistance and how to apply on its website.

Residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy who have rental or home insurance should contact their insurance companies immediately to file a claim. Both types of insurance typically include coverage for expenses to live somewhere else while an uninhabitable home is undergoing repair. Federal disaster assistance for temporary housing may be available for people who have exhausted the additional living expenses settlement with their insurance companies and still need help. By law, FEMA cannnot provide money for losses that are covered by insurance.

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