What is The Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

A lot of people don’t realize how many different government assistance programs are out there that may be able to help them. One often overlooked program is the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). This program benefits families in a variety of ways when they need help the most.

Understanding the Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

This is a program that is available thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). IHP can help eligible households and individuals dealing with the aftermath of a disaster by providing both financial and direct services. Recipients of this program must have under-insured or uninsured essential costs and other serious needs. It’s important to keep in mind that this program is not a substitute for insurance. Furthermore, IHP cannot pay for all losses that a disaster caused. Instead, recipients need to understand that the goal of this program is to help those in need get their basic needs as well as supplement recovery efforts after a disaster!

Different Types of Assistance from IHP

The type of assistance that a recipient will get will vary depending on their needs. However, it may include the following disaster-related support:

  • Financial assistance for temporary housing if a person is unable to live in their home. 
  • Financial assistance for replacing or repairing a person’s primary residence
  • A temporary housing unit in times when there is a lack of housing resources that are available for rental assistance cannot be used
  • Financial assistance for uninsured or under-insured essential needs and costs
  • Financial assistance for homeowners to use to make their homes stronger (this is known as hazard mitigation)

To better understand the different support that this program can provide, you can break it down into four categories:

  • Rental Assistance
  • Transitional Sheltering Assistance
  • Home Repair/Replacement
  • Direct Temporary Housing

Rental Assistance

This form of assistance is a great opportunity for qualifying survivors. Financial assistance is available in the form of rental assistance to those who need a temporary place to stay while their home is getting repaired or until they figure out how to find a permanent housing opportunity.  To qualify for this assistance, a survivor of a disaster must:

  • Have a home that is uninhabitable due to the disaster
  • Be in agreement to relocate
  • Have housing needs that insurance is not covering

Transitional Sheltering Assistance

FEMA, with the help of participating hotels, can give temporary shelter assistance to qualifying survivors of a disaster. To benefit from this assistance, disaster survivors must:

  • Be displaced and have to take refuge in an emergency shelter
  • Have their home be not in livable condition or be inaccessible due to the disaster 

Home Repair/Replacement

There is financial assistance that can help those that need to focus on home repair/replacement. The funds that this support provides can allow qualifying homeowners to either rebuild or make basic necessary repairs so their homes can be functional, sanitary, and safe. To benefit from this assistance, a homeowner must:

  • Have had their primary residence be determined to be unlivable after an inspection was done by FEMA
  • Not have their housing needs covered by insurance

Direct Temporary Housing

Do not confuse this assistance option with Transitional Sheltering Assistance! They are two different benefits. Direct Temporary Housing support provides FEMA-issued temporary transportable housing units to those that qualify. For a disaster survivor to qualify, they must:

  • Have had their home become unlivable or destroyed due to the disaster
  • Have no other realistic temporary housing solutions due to limited available rental resources

Who is Eligible for IHP?

It’s important to keep in mind that the different types of assistance that IHP provides will have different eligibility requirements. However, there are general criteria that individuals need to meet as well. This includes the following conditions:

  • Citizenship Status
  • Identity Confirmation
  • Occupancy Confirmation or Ownership Confirmation
  • Needs that Have to be Met After Insurance

Citizenship Status

This is a government program. Recipients will need to be either a United States citizen or have qualifying immigration status. Some examples of an eligible non-citizen include:

  • Those who are lawful permanent residents (also known as people with a green card)
  • Refugees or other non-citizens that have a withheld deportation status
  • Non-citizens that are paroled into America for at least one year
  • Haitian entrants
  • Cuban entrants

However, even if the applicant doesn’t have qualifying citizenship status, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no hope. Instead, the household still may apply for specific types of IHP support under the following circumstances:

  • Someone else in the household meets qualifying criteria during the registration process
  • The applicant is a guardian or parent that is applying on behalf of a minor that has a qualifying citizenship status 

Identity Confirmation

Those that want to benefit from this program need to verify their identity. FEMA will need to have the ability to confirm an applicant’s identity through a Social Security number (SSN). Generally, FEMA will verify the applicant’s identity at the time of application. They do this through an automated search of public records. They also do this by asking a variety of questions that are related to either the applicant’s public records or credit file.

If FEMA cannot confirm the identity of the applicant through the methods used above, they may need to provide additional documentation. This additional documentation will help them get the verification they need for the applicant’s identity. Some of the documentation that applicants may need to provide include the following:

  • Documentation from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that either contains the applicant’s full SSN or the last four of their SSN
  • Documentation from another federal entity that either contains the applicant’s full SSN or the last four of their SSN
  • Identification from the military
  • Marriage license
  • United States Passport
  • Payroll documentation that either contains the applicant’s full SSN or the last four of their SSN

Occupancy Confirmation or Ownership Confirmation

FEMA has to make sure they can confirm that an applicant has occupancy or ownership. This means that applicants:

  • Must have proof that the damaged home was their primary residence
  • Must prove ownership of their disaster-damaged residence (if they are a homeowner)

FEMA will confirm the applicant’s occupancy and ownership at the time of application. They do this through an automated search of public records. If FEMA cannot confirm the occupancy and ownership, they may need the applicant to provide additional documentation. This additional documentation will help them get the verification they need for the applicant’s proof of occupancy or ownership. The proof that applicants will need to provide will vary depending on whether they need to verify their occupancy or ownership. Regardless, generally, a majority of documents can be dated within one year prior to the disaster or within the 18-month period of support. Additional documentation for proof of occupancy includes:

  • Affidavits of Residency
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Housing agreements
  • Lease agreements 
  • Pay stubs
  • Qualifying pieces of mail
  • Receipts of rent
  • Utility bills (this includes water, electricity, etc.)

On the other hand, additional documentation for proving ownership would include:

  • Deed or title of the home
  • Documentation from the mortgage
  • Home purchase contracts
  • Documentation for Homeowners Insurance
  • Official documentation naming the applicant as the heir to the property
  • Property tax receipt or bill

Needs That Have to Be Met After Insurance

Remember how we said the point of this program is not to be a substitute for insurance? Well, that is exactly why this is an important general eligibility condition for IHP. When someone applies for this program, it must be after insurance or other disaster programs were not able to cover the entire expense caused from a disaster. That is why applicants will need to:

  • Let FEMA know of any insurance coverage that is available for their situation 
  • Provide any insurance-related documentation that is relevant that the policy covers relevant to the disaster

How to Apply for IHP

If you want to benefit from this program you will need to apply. Luckily, the applications are free, so you don’t have to worry about trying to get funds together to ask for help. You can prepare to apply for this program in three steps:

  1. Get proof of the damage you are dealing with for your belongings and home. That means taking pictures of the damage!
  2. Get a list together of the damage as well as any lost items.
  3. If you have insurance, you will want to make sure you submit a claim with them. However, if you have no insurance, then you can skip this step.

Once the above steps are complete, you can apply for IHP. You can apply either online, through an app, over the phone, or in person. You even have the opportunity to send updates through the mail (or fax). Since you have so many ways that you can apply (or reach out for information), you can choose the way that works best for your current situation. 

Online

A great online resource is disasterassistance.gov. This government website allows you to both submit an application and stay up to date on your application status. 

Through an App

Many government programs don’t have smartphone apps, but this one is different. You can access FEMA through a smartphone app! If you want to download the app, you can do so through their website. You also have the opportunity to do this through your phone’s app store!

Over the Phone

FEMA has a toll-free number which is 800-621-3362. Individuals can get in touch with this number to begin the application process or check their application status.

In-Person

Some people like to handle their business in person. Luckily, those that want to do this can visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). There are a variety of DRC locations. To find one closest to you, you can go online, through the app, or by calling the FEMA toll-free number. Besides being able to go to a specific center, you may find that there are Disaster Survivor Assistance team members that can visit door-to-door where you live. If they do this, they will have official and proper FEMA photo identification!

Updates Through Mail or Fax

Those that need to update their application can do so by mail or fax. The mailing address for FEMA is P.O. Box 10055 Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055. However, their fax number is 800-827-8112. Add Attn: FEMA if you choose to fax.

What Documents Will You Need to Provide?

When submitting your application, you should expect to provide specific documents. These documents include:

  • Proof of occupancy or proof of ownership
  • Insurance determination letter
  • Proof of identification

Bottom Line

When you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, your situation can feel hopeless. Luckily, that’s not the case. There are a variety of government assistance options available. One program, in particular, is the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). This program can provide the following assistance to qualifying applicants:

  • Rental Assistance
  • Transitional Sheltering Assistance
  • Home Repair/Replacement
  • Direct Temporary Housing

Each category of assistance will have its own eligibility requirements. However, there are some general criteria that applicants will need to meet which include:

  • Citizenship Status
  • Identity Confirmation
  • Occupancy Confirmation or Ownership Confirmation
  • Needs that Have to be Met After Insurance

IHP may be a great opportunity to help with your current situation. If you need more information or want to begin the application process, you can get in touch with FEMA online, through an app, over the phone, or in person.

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