FEMA Expands Church Access to Disaster Funds

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has changed language in its policy to make it easier for religious organizations to quality for disaster-relief funds. In September, President Trump suggested making the change in the midst of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. “Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others),” Trump tweeted at the time. FEMA has said it will remove language in its rules, which have often served to disqualify religious groups from receiving certain aid. FEMA Recovery Directorate Assistant Administrator Alex Amparo wrote in a new manual released Tuesday: “Private nonprofit houses of worship will not be singled out for disfavored treatment within the community centers subcategory of [Public Assistance] nonprofit applicants.” The revised policy made public Tuesday will be retroactive to cover damage incurred as early as August 2017.