Public Safety

Continued FEMA Rental Assistance May be Available for Valley Fire Survivors

Burned home with man surveying damage.
Damage assessor surveys losses from the Valley Fire.

Survivors of the September Valley Fire who are currently receiving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rental assistance for temporary housing as part of the Individuals and Households Program may be able to extend their current benefits into the new year.

Some San Diego County residents may qualify for continued assistance if they can demonstrate a fire-related financial need and show that they have developed and/or are making progress toward a long-term housing plan.

According to FEMA, a long-term housing plan is one that would put the survivor back into permanent safe, sanitary, and functional housing within a reasonable timeframe. Individuals requesting a continuation of their current benefits must show progress toward obtaining permanent housing, and a contractor estimate of repairs can point to progress.

Individuals who are currently receiving FEMA rental assistance and have an ongoing need should follow the steps below:

  1. Contact FEMA.
  2. Provide proof that previous assistance funding was spent on rent.
  3. Provide an updated status on a permanent housing plan.

Extensions on rental assistance may be granted for three-month periods, up to a maximum of 18 months from the date of the presidential declaration, which was October 16, 2020, for the Valley Fire.

The application must be accompanied by these supporting documents:

  1. Pre-disaster and current household income status.
  2. Copies of pre-disaster mortgage or lease, utility bills, and insurance information.
  3. Copy of current lease or rental agreement signed by you and the landlord.
  4. Copies of rental receipts, canceled checks or money orders showing the rental assistance was used to pay for housing expenses.

County residents requesting an extension should submit the documents by using their existing DisasterAssistance.gov account or by uploading the information via the FEMA app on a smartphone or tablet.

Homeowners whose FEMA verified loss exceeds the amount of the initial rental assistance award they received will receive the continuation application in the mail after the initial rental assistance award has been granted. Homeowners whose verified loss does not exceed the initial rental award must call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) and ask for an application for continued temporary rental assistance.

Renters will also need to call the helpline to ask for an application for continued temporary rental assistance. Requests will be evaluated to determine eligibility for the extension, but there is no guarantee of rental assistance past the first two months.

For more information on San Diego County recovery efforts for the Valley Fire visit https://www.sdcountyrecovery.com

For the latest FEMA information on the Valley Fire wildfire recovery, visit

https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4569 and follow the FEMA Region 9 Twitter account at https://twitter.com/femaregion9.

Donnie Ryan is a group communications officer with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact