FEMA removes barriers to faith-based groups
It will now be easier for faith-based institutions to receive federal disaster relief funds. FEMA announced January 2, 2018 it is removing language in its rules that had disqualified religious groups from aid, which had been available to other nonprofits, but not faith-based institutions.
The change comes in light of a suggestion by President Donald Trump to remove the restrictions to faith-based institutions. Trump made the comments after hurricanes ravaged the south in 2017, causing wide-spread damage to many faith-based institutions, who, in many situations, were the institutions on the front-lines of disaster relief to those affected by the storms.
Several lawsuits continue to be pending in the two hardest hit states of Texas and Florida by churches and synagogues who were challenging the limits.
“Private nonprofit houses of worship will not be singled out for disfavored treatment within the community centers subcategory of (Public Assistance) nonprofit applicants,” FEMA Recovery Directorate Assistant Administrator Alex Amparo wrote in the new manual.
The revised policy FEMA made last week will be retroactive to cover damages incurred as early as Aug. 23, 2017, including damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.