Thursday, 08 February 2018 01:00

FEMA Responds to Pittenger Request and Make Churches Eligible for Disaster Aid

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Representative Robert Pittenger. Representative Robert Pittenger.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a request from Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has updated its policy to allow appropriate disaster recovery grants for churches impacted by future disasters.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, first signed into law in 1988, allows FEMA to provide financial assistance to certain nonprofit organizations for the repair or replacement of facilities damaged or destroyed by a major disaster. 

Even though Congress included a prohibition on religious discrimination, FEMA has for decades prohibited churches from receiving disaster relief grants available to other nonprofit organizations.

Following an October 2017 letter from Congressman Pittenger and nearly 20 additional Members of Congress, FEMA has added “activities of community centers or houses of worship open to the general public, without regard to their secular or religious nature” to its Public Assistance Policy.  This change applies to disasters declared on or after August 23, 2017.

“FEMA’s old policy enshrined official religious discrimination.  Even as FEMA relied on local churches to serve as shelters and distribution centers, FEMA denied them equal opportunity for nonprofit disaster recovery grants,” said Congressman Pittenger.  “Thank you to President Trump for quickly acting to end this unconstitutional religious discrimination.”

Congressman Pittenger’s office actively assists churches, local non-profits, and thousands of constituents cut through federal red tape.  Please call Congressman Pittenger’s Charlotte office at 704-362-1060 for assistance or additional information.