Reverend Dr. Que English, the deputy director for faith-based initiatives in the governor’s office of faith and community development and co-pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship, organizes a presentation with Faith-based and community-based organizations to talk about the four buckets of the Hurricane Ida Relief efforts: SBA loans, FEMA’s Individual and Public assistance, and Mitigation. 

Video Transcript

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, thank you and welcome, welcome our faith leaders, our non-profit leaders, our community leaders to this very important call as we deal with the after effects of hurricane Ida but more importantly knowing what’s being made available to us post this atrocity. I do want to thank FEMA for joining us today, we have a great group of leaders on the call today. I see who you are.Those that are able to get the word out to their constituents and or congregation members. I first want to introduce myself, I am Reverend Dr. Que English. I am the deputy director of faith-based initiatives in the governor’s office of faith and community development services. I’m also a co-pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship with my husband, Reverend Tim English. I want to introduce our calls for today who are also very, very dear friends: Peter Cook, who is the executive director of New York state council of churches, Peter Gudaitis, those of you that are on the line have worked with him, he is the Executive Director and CEO of the New York Disaster Interfaith Services and he chairs the New York boaz. We also have Joseph Potasnik, our state’s illustrious rabbi. He was the executive vice president of the New York board of rabbis. To get us started, I am ecstatic about introducing our new, for those that did not know, he is newly installed. He is Marcus Coleman, who is the director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships. It gives me pleasure to introduce him to many of you and some of you already know him but I’m opening up the floor to you to give us our opening remarks, Marcus.

Marcus Coleman: Reverend Dr. English, thank you very much and thank you all for having us here. I know we have a few federal partners on the line andI just want to, before I get started with my remarks, a question of curiosity for folks. I would love to know, I think, to Reverend Dr. Que English, she brought together some very connected people. If you can drop in the chat

the number of houses of worship in community-based organizations that you have reached to. I’m sure for Nidus, right there’s a couple 100 faith organizations but I’d love to see if people can drop the number in the chat of as you’re hearing information the number that you think on average right of faith-based and community-based organizations that are going to be coming to you to determine what’s happening. I’ll give people a few seconds to drop that number in the chat and it can be an estimate. It’s not permanent but just a rough estimate of the number of houses of worship you reach throughout the state

Marcus Coleman: Seven thousand. I know we got a few more folks so you want to keep dropping them in the chat.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Can we have that ongoing, Marcus? While we continue the dialogue please.

Marcus Coleman: Yeah, that’ll be ongoing.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, great. Thank you.

Marcus Coleman: The reason why I bring this up and this is very important for our federal

partners to know, we rarely get the opportunity to have such a deeply embedded and special partnership with the collection of leaders at the state level than with the state of new york. Peter Gudaitis and his work through Nidus and the New York Boaz have been strong partners. The rabbi and the wonderful work that he does in the community there have been some great partners and Dr. Reverend Que English has been a long-standing partner for our office for quite some time and I just want to re-emphasize that we do not take the work that you all do for granted. We definitely want to continue to come alongside you and support you along with our colleagues at FEMA. We’re just so thankful for the presence that you all give. Now we know that some of you are joining this webinar cautiously optimistic, probably more cautious than optimistic. I’m going to provide a quick introduction about myself, give you a very quick resource and I’m going to pass it over to everyone else that are the experts on the line. As Dr. Reverend Que English mentioned, my name is Marcus Coleman. I serve as the director for the center for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships at the department of homeland security. For those of you unfamiliar with our center, we are one of 11 centers across the federal family. We have a director at housing and urban development USDA which focuses on agriculture, Department of Commerce SBA and we all fall under the white house office of faith based and neighborhood partnerships which is led by Melissa Rogers. On behalf of Ms. Rogers, on behalf of our student administrator, and on behalf of myself I say thank you for having us today and thank you for having this all-important conversation. We know that many of your houses of worship and many of the communities you served since early September have been navigating the recovery process. It’s been compounded by the pandemic, we know that there’s a lot of day-to-day emergencies that many of you all are addressing and that people have questions about programs and we’re thankful again for the governor and the state’s foresight to proactively reach out and engage to have this opportunity which is not the only opportunity before and won’t be the only opportunity since to really build that partnership to provide just a form for a few key faith leaders that are connected to thousands of houses of worship across the state to make sure that people are aware of the resources and information and hopefully address some questions that you all have. We know that there are a lot of government programs on the federal side. There’s a lot of confusion from some of the parishioners and people that you may all serve and so we’re hopeful that the information we provide today is actionable, that we can get your candid feedback on what the process has been so far and more importantly that we can find new

ways to continue our partnership together to support all of the citizens and all of the people in New York state and of the great state. I just want to thank you all, I’ll say the resource that I will leave if you have any questions from the federal perspective, we do have a lot of resources located specifically for all states affected by hurricane Ida. I know many of your institutions may be connected to a few of the surrounding states. I’m going to drop that link in the chat and I just want to again, thank all of my federal colleagues that are going to be on the line as program subject matter experts to provide thoughtful and actionable information with that

Dr. Reverend Que English, I will pass it back to you and thank you all very much for having us here as one of the many centers of faith-based neighborhood partnership and looking forward to

continued partnership with the great state of new york and the people of new york that have been very strong partners to our office for months and years to come. 

Dr. Reverend Que English: Thank you, thank you so much, Marcus. For those that are just joining, they have asked that if you would just drop in the chat you know the number of people that you reach through your houses of worship or your non-profit or your community-based organization. If you want to just drop that in a chat and our FEMA partners can take a look at it. Let’s continue but Marcus, thank you so much for those open remarks and looking forward to our continued relationship with you and the work that is so needed on the ground here in New York. At this time, I want to introduce those that are part of the conversation today and we’re going to start with Peter Gudaitis, introducing our first speaker from FEMA. Peter, I think you should be able to unmute yourself.

Peter Gudaitis: Yes, thanks. Sorry. After 19 months, you think I’d remember to unmute myself


Peter Gudaitis: Good morning or Good afternoon, everyone. And does my heart good to see Marcus leading our DHS center which is just incredible. I’ve known him for many years. The challenge I think for us has been as a state has been the kind of slow creeping amount of information that’s rolled out about Ida. It was not clear early on how many households were damaged. I mean we’re up in the 70,000 flooded households at this point in time. Plus our nonprofit and faith-based institutions. I’m very pleased to be able to introduce the public assistance infrastructure branch director, Daniella Hepburn, who’s going to talk with us about the federal public assistance programs that are available through FEMA to provide financial assistance to houses of worship and other non-profit organizations that have the potential to help pay for emergency protective measures, those houses of worship took, debris removal, and the restoration of facilities. So, without further ado, Daniella thanks for joining us and we’re

looking forward to hear what you have to say.

Daniella Hepburn: Absolutely, first off, I would like to say I appreciate the invite and the opportunity to have this discussion. Full disclosure, this is my first time I work with that many representatives with houses of worship. So that is very exciting for me and I am very impressed with the numbers in the chat of the outreach that you have. It is just incredible so with that, I have a team here in in New York that is in full support to houses of worship private nonprofits and all of the other government entities that are in needing of assistance. We have, just like most like you, have many we have a virtual team that is in assistance but we also have people here in New York at the world trade center ready to assist anybody directly in person for any support with the system or any questions on policy in addition to what we are discussing today. The support is there. What I would kind of relay it’s just a very broad overview that I have prepared a discussion on policy, who can apply for public assistance, the consideration of damages, and then the process. Everything is just very like the 20,000 foot level and then we can discuss anything further that you may have any questions that you may have but under the Robert T. Stafford disaster relief and emergency assistant act most known as stafford act, FEMA provides financial assistance through its public assistance program to certain p and p organizations for the repair or replacement of facilities damaged or destroyed by a major disaster. That is basically the law that allows us to provide financial assistance to houses of worship or other private nonprofit organizations. The policy underneath it’s called the public assistance program and policy guide you may hear the terms papaji if once once you work with our public assistance program, you may hear the terms papaji and that is kind of the policy that interprets the laws underneath the stafford act. We also have available a fact sheet for private non-profit houses of worship that we can make available to everybody and if somebody gives me the just an email address at the end here I can make sure we can distribute that if it has not been distributed yet. What does that mean right all of these policies and laws so the houses of worship owned or operated by a private non-profit organization can be an eligible applicant to receive financial assistance if the facility suffered damages from hurricane Ida or you will also hear maybe disaster number 46 15. Every major disaster declaration gets a number and for New York it’s 46 15. Houses of worships are considered a community center; however the facility must be open to the general public to be eligible for public assistance. Those are kind of some limitations that you have to be open to the general public. If a faith-based private nonprofit owns and operates a facility that includes both space for religious purposes and space for other purposes, FEMA will conduct a review of each facility or section of the facility and apply its policies and mixed use. For instance, if you have your house of worship and then you have some sort of a training center or something like that some may some facility may be eligible the other another facility and we may gonna have to review for whether our repairs are eligible. That can get a little bit confusing and we can work with you to kind of identify the details because some of this can be confusing. What damages can you consider? If you’re an eligible facility and if you apply for FEMA assistance, you can for cleanup of the facility, any damages that were sustained, for the flooding damages, contents damages of the within the building, any electrical damages those kind of things can be reimbursable through FEMA. How do you apply for it? The initial application, a house of worship is considered a non-essential facility. What that means is you would have to apply for a a small business loan and I know we have somebody here from the small business administration and they can talk a little bit more but so you apply for a small business loan and then you also you go to the state and you provide a request for public assistance and the state can kind of explain the system. It’s called a grants portal that you go through and then if you receive a public assistance grant and you have additional damages so the damages are outside of the public assistance grant in addition that is kind of the funding that FEMA can support. A small business loan is a requirement and any damages or any costs outside of what the loan would provide fiba public assistance program can support. I know that’s a lot and I know there was some policy language in there. I’m more than happy to kind of dive

into it but that was kind of my very broad overview of the public assistance program. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Thank you so much, I just Peter, I don’t know if you wanted to make a comment but i’m going to ask all of the speakers to just speak a little slower for our ASL interpreters and if you have links, if we can drop them in the chat now instead of waiting that would be preferred so you made reference really this is about accessing assistance right so if you have links of where they can access that would be amazing. Thank you and thank you Marcus for dropping that in the chat just now as well. Thank you for your presentation. Peter?

Peter Cook: One question about whether or not food pantries in houses of worship are considered essential?

Daniella Hepburn: No, food pantries would not be eligible but there would not they would not be an essential. There is some specific language that we can provide on some of these outlines what is eligible and what would not be or what is essential or considered essential and what would not be. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, thank you. Peter C. 

Peter Cook: Great. I have the privilege of introducing Carl who handles the small business administration low interest disaster loans. We’re grateful, all of us in these houses of worship to the SBA for their help around the PPP loan. We’re quite familiar with you in that regard but we also know that you offer disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans to businesses, non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. And I assume non-profit organizations would include houses of worship located in regions affected by the declared counties. We’ve asked Carl to speak to this further, so Carl.

Carl: Well that’s an excellent 20,000 foot overview up here. We do indeed offer low interest loans to non-critical private non-profits and as was mentioned earlier that means when you are considered non-critical that you have to apply to the SBA for a disaster loan before going to FEMA if we are able to approve a loan that meets your needs that’s fine. If we’re able to approve a partial loan then you can be referred to FEMA for the unmet needs or if we’re not able to approve a loan at all then we can also refer you back to FEMA now those loans will cover disaster damage to your physical plant, your machinery and equipment, your

furniture and fixtures, and they can also have an economic injury disaster loan component.

If you are finding that your donations for example are down because of that and

you’re not able to meet your ordinary and necessary operating expenses, then we can look at lending you the money to keep those current until things return to normal now the loan amounts can be quite generous up to two million dollars for either physical damage, economic injury or some combination of the two. Repayment terms can go as long as 30 years and because of the pandemic that preceded hurricane Ida, our administrator made the decision that the first payments on all loans made in 2021 will be deferred 18 months. You’ll have a year and a half to actually make the repairs and get things back to normal. Now importantly disaster loans are also available to your congregants to the members of your parish, your synagogue, whatever if they had damage at their home or even to their apartment if there happened to be a renter. Again, the damage can be to real estate, furniture personal property, the limits are quite a bit lower than for businesses but a homeowner can borrow up to two hundred thousand dollars based on need for damage to their real estate and another forty thousand dollars for damage to their personal property and that does include automobiles. We saw a number of those washed away during Ida. Renters can also borrow up to forty thousand dollars. Again, based on need to their personal property. And again, the first payment is deferred 18 months, the term can go as long as 30 years if that’s what it takes to make recovery affordable. Interest rates are very favorable, non-profits are at 2 percent homeowners and renters 1.563 percent and those interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan. Now to apply you can either visit a disaster recovery center and we have one in each of the declared counties here in New York. As well as across the river in

New Jersey or you can go online and i’ll put this link in the chat

and I would encourage individuals particularly, if you have damage to first register with our colleagues at FEMA they will get the process started and they are actually the overall coordinator of the federal disaster relief effort so that for individuals would be your first stop. I’ll put our link in the chat for your reference down the road any questions we can uh tackle at the appropriate time and I will be here to address those.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Thank you. Go ahead, Peter.

Peter Gudaitis: Sure. So is any portion of the any of these loans forgivable?

Carl: At this point, no, it’s not the the only forgivable loans that congress has given out or forgivable provisions were for portions of the ppp loan and some advances for the idle loans but those were specifically for the Covid disaster.

Peter Cook: But it does take some pressure down to have the 18 months deferment.

Carl: Then that’s certainly the intent we’re hoping that by a year and a half from now, we can put a lot of what’s happened behind us.

Peter Cook: And does the interests accrue for those that deferment period?

Carl: An excellent question. Yes, it does. The interest does accrue. You can make payments early, if you are inclined and able to do that. And that’ll of course save a bit of interest. I should point out as well these are very simple straightforward loans. There’s no points, there’s no origination fees, there are no closing costs, there are no prepayment penalties. About the only additional cost is if we take collateral which we do for loans of 25,000 or more. There’s a collateral filing fee. Often that’s about around a hundred dollars, it could vary but it’s fairly minimal.

Peter Cook: And one other question: are there any kind of churches or religious institutions who would be disqualified from applying for this assistance?

Carl: Well, as with FEMA, if they’re open to the general public then that’s the criteria. Otherwise,  you know I would encourage people if they have any questions to apply, speak with a loan officer, and talk specifics because those of course can vary rather greatly.

Peter Cook: And how do you define open to the public?

Carl: We just follow FEMA’s guidance. If it’s something that anybody can access, then we can move forward with consideration.

Peter Cook: Okay, Thank you.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Thank you. There is a question that came: We had a problem when we applied, this is coming from a pastor, due to the fact that churches don’t need to file 990s. So the customer service folks I called after I applied for an SBA disaster loan, they didn’t know how to handle churches that don’t have 990s. Can you please talk to this today?

Carl: That’s an interesting question. I would ask for a loan officer who is familiar because we do have loan officers who work with non-profits. A non-profit being somewhat of a misnomer, it doesn’t mean you have no money in the bank but it means that you’re not profiting an individual or shareholder as a corporation but there are loan officers we have that are relative experts in that and if you’re not getting an answer that’s satisfactory then ask for a different representative. We’re accustomed to making those kind of adjustments as necessary.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Is there someone you can refer at this time? Someone you can just drop in the chat for people to be able to reach out to that is experienced in on how to handle houses of worship that don’t have obviously they’re not required to follow 990s or that may be someone we can refer them to?

Carl: Let me see if I can find somebody specific. I can certainly include our general customer service number and we’ll do so.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, the message was that the application requires you to have a 990 and a 4506. That is something that I think we need to address, as we think about helping houses of worship. I don’t know if we asked this question, Peter, it says: with the deferment does interest accrue? Did we ask that question already?

Carl: Yes, Peter did ask and the answer is yes, it does during that period.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, are any grants available as opposed to loans for individuals that suffered losses?

Carl: Not from the small business administration but I would refer to my colleagues at FEMA on that.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay. Then we’ll circle back to that. We still have people joining the call; we’re going to move on to rabbi Potasnik. 

Rabbi Potasnik: Thank you, Carl. By the way, I know a 90 year old who wants that 30-year payback period. So thank you so much for having that latitude.


Carl: We can talk offline I’ve actually approved a loan to a gentleman who just turned 100 back in the days when i was processing so it’s not outside the realm 

Rabbi Potasnik: Wow. Thank you. Before I introduce Sharon Edwards, who I’ve come to know very well during the last 60 seconds on the call, I want to ask this question. There are so many intricacies in the policy guidelines and I think some people feel frustrated because they understand or they look to them during the time of crisis. And I’m just wondering if we could all do a better job in providing the information long before the hurricane. We know there’s going to be a hurricane or more than one but I think people need to be familiar with the various details and Peter Gudaitis has done a great job in serving community and Que, thanks for bringing us together but I think all of us have a responsibility to convey much more information in the pre-hurricane period and not wait for the crisis to originate. So we could talk about how to do that. With that in mind, I want to Introduce Sharon Edwards, who is FEMA’s hazard mitigation assistant providing housing and providing funding for eligible mitigation measures that reduce disaster losses. It also reduces vulnerability of communities to disasters and their efforts. So Sharon, if you could speak to that we would be most grateful.

Peter Gudaitis: She cannot unmute herself 

Reverend Dr. Que English: You gotta unmute herself. Let me see, she should be able to. Hold on. Let’s try it now, Sharon. Hold on, let’s try it. Are you good? Okay.

Sharon Edwards: There you go and it’s Sharon. He really wanted it to be difficult. It’s okay. Good afternoon, all. My name is Sharon Edwards and I work in a hazard mitigation assistance program and for the disaster recovery. We have multiple mitigation programs that we provide grants for but under the disaster program is the hazard mitigation grant program and I will also like to introduce or make you aware that our state has a mitigation officer, Marlene

White, she works at the Department of Homeland Security and emergency services and she oversees this program. So if there’s questions that I would say are state focused, she may be able to chime into. It has mitigation. As a mitigation grant program, it’s a program that is authorized by the president upon declaration for the Disaster and just like Daniella explained, we are authorized through the Stafford Act and with that, it turns on certain parameters. Our program is mainly focused on helping communities rebuild after a national event and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a damaged infrastructure facility or damaged homeowner. It just means that if we can do something I would say smarter and help us prevent damages in the future, that’s what the hazard mitigation grant program is really focused towards doing. Faith-based or Facebook houses of worship or face-face community applicants would be

considered private non-profit sub-applicants under this program and if they chose to apply for a grant within this program, it would need to be submitted and administered through the state of New York. That’s why I mentioned Miss Marlene White, she’s a statehouse mitigation officer and she will oversee the program for this disaster for Ida. Now the types of activities that we can possibly fund will be retrofitting existing buildings to prevent them to be less sustainable to damages or various impacts from a disaster. For example, if the structure or if there was ways that water rose or flooding occurred within your building there may be ways that we can provide a grant that for an activity to try to reduce that from ever happening again for the particular structure similar to if there was situations where that the basement inside the building was flooded and it limited you from having access to your utilities or your water or your boilers and things like that. There’s things like that that we can provide funding to assist to move those up to higher levels in the building so they wouldn’t be impacted, so it’ll be less downtime in those particular buildings. And the one thing I will say FEMA provides the funding but the program is directly administered through the state. So if your organization chose to submit a project it would go to the state office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services when they put out a request for letters of intent for funding for Ida and then once they go through their process and if we receive it, FEMA will evaluate it and potentially provide funding to those particular sub-applicants. I think unless there’s questions because it’s kind of hard to really go through certain things for the HMGP program without having more questions with it. So if you have any questions that would be better explained, go ahead. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Yeah, we do have some questions. Before I do the question, I just realized that my partner from the Department of Homeland Security that I have worked with for many many many many many years and she’s a force to be reckoned with I need to acknowledge, Nicole Wood, that’s on the line. I mean her picture’s not shown right now but she’s been an amazing partner for us over the years and you know there really is no movement without me moving through Nicole. That’s just how it’s been, I don’t know if it’s a woman power thing or what but Nicole, it’s so great to have you on the call today and thank you for all you do for the city of New York. One of the things that the state of New York actually and really the nation, one of the things that came across in the chat, I know Peter Cook has flagged this. There’s two things, is the application available for people to apply now? I couldn’t get clarity on that Sharon, go ahead.

Sharon Edwards: The application period will be determined. We provide, FEMA provides a deadline, for the state of New York to submit applications to us for funding. New York state has an internal process where they will make the announcement availability for applications for Ida. That has not occurred yet but it’s coming.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay. So do you know the time frame for that at all, Sharon? I mean I don’t even know the time frame. I don’t know if they’re more in communication.

Sharon Edwards: FEMA actually gives this date a year and they can ask for additional time from this. We provide them a state from the time of declaration. So applications are due to us September of next year but that doesn’t mean New York state can’t ask for additional time to develop applications. And in prior disasters or prior grant programs that I’ve worked with, New York state, they usually run a letter of intent process that’s approximately a solicitation of about two months to get ideas or to basically get feelers of what potentially could be coming in to them once they they go through that, identify projects that they think they can actually get developed and then there’s a developed period time possibly another few months so I would say maybe between two to six months maybe that window to get applications in but like I said, I’m not the state will basically post that information up and I will send you the link for the mitigation recovery program so you can, i’ll put that in the chat, so that you can see when that information gets up and rolling right because just recently they just announced the letter of intent process for our non-disaster programs the building resilient infrastructure communities and flood mitigation assistance program so they just announced that program I believe yesterday.

Reverend Dr. Que English: So it doesn’t look like that we’ll be able to see or realize any funds until next year.

Sharon Edwards: Yes, that’s the one caveat. I will say, as mitigation grant programs take time.

Not necessarily we’re not as quick as individual assistance of public assistance getting money out on the street. It can take up to 12 months to get money from our programs out to I would say the people in need or the people that are going to be implementing the activities. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, a point that Peter Cook made was it sounds, let me just get it here, I did see a note in here from Peter. Oh, here it is. It sounds as though in order to apply for FEMA public infrastructure assistance you must first apply to the SBA for a loan and then go to FEMA for a grant. The SBA provides loans to churches who are open to the public. It sounds as though, the definition of what it means for a house of worship to be open to the public could SBA restate its policy about what they will and will not fund for houses of worship?

Carl: Sure, sure. I’d be happy to. We fund physical damage to your real estate, the building, the area around it, the furnishings, and the interior. We would also fund economic injury loans to keep you current with your ongoing financial obligations until things return to normal and mitigation was brought up I didn’t mention that previously but we can also cover mitigation measures if there is something that you can install perhaps a french drain or a sump pump or a retaining wall or something that would mitigate against future flood damage. We can increase the loan by up to 20% of your physical damage to fund those mitigation measures. We’ve found that we, as an individual agency but as an industry, have found that one dollar spent on mitigation will often offset six dollars in future damage. So it’s money well spent and we can look at increasing the loan to fund that mitigation. Now to the extent that our loan will not cover all of your needs, that’s where the referral to FEMA would come in and I again defer to my FEMA colleagues for more specifics on that. 

Speaker: Que, can I just ask something?

Reverend Dr. Que English: Yes, absolutely.

Speaker: Yeah, in terms of the spiritual items, for example whether it’s Bibles, Torahs. Now that’s something that is not covered, am I right with that?

Carl: Not exactly, they’re covered for functional value. If you had something that had a great historic value then that’s something that would have to be perhaps covered by a rider in your insurance policy because we’ll only cover the functional value of the items that were damaged. 

Speaker: So pray books that are used on a regular basis could be covered?

Carl: I would believe so, yes, absolutely.

Speaker: Okay, thank you so much.

Daniella Hepburn: They also could be covered under the public assistance program. So if for instance, the SBA loan does not cover something, we would cover something like that.

Speaker: Great.

Reverend Dr. Que English: We have a 12 month turnaround time up to 12 month turnaround time according to Sharon. Carl, what’s your turnaround time? 

Carl: We hope to have an answer to you within a matter of a few weeks. Now, whether we get everything, all of our ducks in a row if you will, sometimes can take longer than that. I would also point out that when we do approve a loan, we don’t disperse the entire amount at once unless it’s less than five thousand dollars. We disburse them like construction loans. We’ll give the first chunk out to get the work started then as the work progresses and we can confirm that, we disburse additional amounts to keep the project going. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay.

Peter Cook: Que?

Reverend Dr. Que English: Yes, please.

Peter Cook: I just want to drill down on this answer that felt a little opaque. So the definition used by SBA of open to the public and the definition of open to the public used by FEMA, is that the same definition? and could you restate the FEMA folks, what that definition is about what is considered a building open to the public versus a church that provides religious services or religious congregation. It’s a little fuzzy to me, honestly.

Daniella Hepburn: I can kind of, I can. So a church that provides religious services is considered a community service that is open to the public. There’s no charge, you’re not charging the public to enter the building, there is no fee involved those kind of things. When we’re saying open to the public, anybody can come in and join your church group for either no fee or a very small minute fees or something like that for some private nonprofit. So that’s kind of what we look at. You are not making or you’re not charging any fees on a regular basis. So that would be open to the public. So houses of worship is a community service and a community service would be open to the public. I mean, you’re not closing the doors on anybody and asking for any kind of funds to participate in the service.That’s kind of how we would look at.

Peter Cook: Okay, thank you. That’s much clearer. I appreciate it. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Thank you. Miss Hepburn, I see that you put in the chat that: thank you for clarifying, I did misspeak on the food bank. I just checked policy and it does state food assistance program including food banks and storage of food for food banks is an eligible service. So we’re making that adjustment right now.

Daniella Hepburn: Thank you. Yes, I had to kind of look through. There’s a lot, I knew I had a lot of questions and I wasn’t sure if I can answer them all correctly and depending on my historic experience but I just clarified, I looked through it and sure enough, it states it in there just like that.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, thank you so much for clarifying. I know it’s helpful for those that are running food banks. Okay, so next, FEMA’s individuals and households program IHP provides financial and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs. Assistance for individuals and households and other programs for disaster of survivors falls under IHP. So we have asked our subject matter expert, Tamara Syndra, to speak to this. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Tamara?

Reverend Dr. Que English: I’m going to get her unmuted and it’s my fault. Okay, you should be good to go, Tamara.

Tamara Syndra: Hello and good afternoon. Thank you for having me I’m representing individual assistance program. I’m just gonna talk in general about what you can do as a community to let survivors that have been affected due to the disaster applied with FEMA. That’s the most important thing, we need people to apply by registering for assistance. Every individual household has particular and specific needs that will cater to their household composition and their individual need. That’s why it’s called individual assistance. It’s important first and foremost that everyone applies for assistance. Assistance may be financial, for home repairs, it may provide a financial funding for relocation for people who are displaced, rental assistance, we may be able to provide temporary housing assistance, and personal property assistance for items that were damaged in the home or any personal belongings. One of the things that’s very important is when you apply with FEMA, you will get referred to the different programs that are available. One of these programs that when you apply with FEMA you may be referred to

is the SBA. Another thing that’s very important is that if you have insurance you must claim with your insurance. It doesn’t mean that you cannot apply with FEMA, you do apply but you also have to begin that process with your insurance this is because FEMA will not duplicate benefits. We will work with you to be able to provide assistance with whatever insurance does not cover. Let’s say you do get referred to the SBA, We always exhort and ask that you do go through the process of filling out that SBA loan application. Why? because you don’t want to close any doors on assistance. Housing assistance for the damages to the structure of the home are not based on income. So that means that if you do get referred to the SBA, you can still receive funds for the repairs to your home or for your housing needs. SBA category will cover things that have to do more with personal property but you want to make sure that you do fill out this application because you don’t want to close doors on any assistance. If the SBA determines that you’re not eligible for FEMA assistance, they may refer you back to FEMA and if they if you are eligible and you determine you do not want the loan, you’re not obligated to take it. However, it’s another option that you may have. Let’s say in the recovery process insurance didn’t cover all your damages, the housing program did not cover all your damages but you were eligible for an SBA loan along the road you may determine that you want that SBA loan and the SBA officer touched on that. The most important thing is that you want to apply for FEMA assistance. Every case is individual, every decision making for each need is case by case. So it’s just what we exhort mainly is that you do apply. We have many resources online, we have,

that provides many eligibility criterias for the individual and household program, we have set up eight DRCS in the affected areas. Where applicants or survivors can go and also get one-on-one assistance in their cases in what they need to provide to FEMA what assistance they may be able to receive. We give this resource or we provide this resource locally so that if you do have any particular doubts that are personal to your household, you can get further assistance with qualified representatives face-to-face one-on-one. We also have our FEMA helpline which also we have qualified representatives or you can call in and we can look at your particular situation to assist you further if that would be the case. I’ll open up the floor for any questions and basically this is a general overview of the individual and household program

but any questions? Please let me know.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Yeah, we have several. Right before I go to the chat, I just want to get clarity now again because we’re dealing with a lot. We got four different buckets that we’re dealing with, right? So we’re hearing about SBA, mitigation, now we’re talking about the individual assistance. When I think of individual assistance, if my insurance has been exhausted, you’re saying that before we can go to you, we have to see if we qualify for a loan and then based on that we’ll determine if your area will kick in, am I correct on that, Tamara? 

Tamara Syndra: No.

Reverend Dr. Que English: That’s how it sounded. Or could you could bypass SBA?

Tamara Syndra: Well, you can, the housing assistance, if you have a housing need, you do not need to go through SBA. Housing assistance is not SBA dependent. However, if you have other needs, let’s say transportation for example you would need to fill out that SBA loan application before we may be able to provide any consideration for personal items such as a vehicle. However, when you apply with FEMA, one of the first thing that’s going to happen is we’re going to request that if you have insurance, you go through your insurance and if you automatically get referred to SBA, we’re also going to extort you to go through the process. Just so that you don’t stop anything but housing assistance, very important rental assistance which is under the housing category and home repair assistance which is under the housing category is not income dependent and immediate funds will be approved if you are eligible. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay. Now your area of what we’re talking about now, what’s the turnaround time on receiving assistance? Obviously this is going straight for FEMA, this is not state, right? So, what is the turnaround time for individual assistance? Approximate. Obviously your every case is different. 

Tamara Syndra: So from the moment that you register with FEMA, we give approximately a 7 to 14 days for your inspection. Okay. You must receive a FEMA inspection before any funding can be determined or approved. It will all depend as long as the person applies, inspector will arrive let’s say seven to 14 days, decision could happen anytime after that. It just depends how much time that inspection will take and the turnaround for us.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay. The other question says: this is such a great information where should we advise people to begin should we refer them to the SBA disaster assistance location in our area? Where should we advise people to begin? Because this is a lot of information.

Tamara Syndra: So because not everyone will be referred to SBA necessarily. The first thing is to apply with FEMA. The FEMA helpline number and I will post it on the chat it’s 1-800-621-3362. I’ll also include the link for the website which just gives general information and third of all we have eight disaster recovery centers in the affected areas. We have one in Brooklyn we have one in Queens, we have one in Yonkers, we have one in Suffolk, we have one in Rockland, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau, if i’m saying that correctly, and Mamaronek. I will post that also on the chat so you have it available and you can always at any moment, contact the FEMA helpline as well for not only clarifications but to register and if you have registered so you can get detailed information on your particular case and I exhort that and I emphasize on that because it’s very important for everyone to understand that no two cases are the same. We have to always look at an individual level, speak with an individual from FEMA directly and not with necessarily our neighbors or our colleagues or our friends of the congregation or anything like that because again, every single case is particular to the household itself. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: What happens if your insurance claim is still pending? FEMA did not accept your claim because you have insurance and you need housing assistance.

Tamara Syndra: If there is a temporary need, let’s say for rental assistance so that you can relocate from your home until repairs are made, FEMA will provide the assistance. However, FEMA program, the individual and household program, does have specific verification requirements. There will be some documentation that will be requested and some verifications will be made initially before any funding goes out.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Okay, let’s see, I think I got one more. You’re saying that while the insurance is pending and you need housing assistance that there is a way for that to happen. Can you put the link in for the actual application? Can we get that as well?

Tamara Syndra: Yes, I will do that right now if you’ll allow me. 

Reverend Dr. Que English: Searching for the application. So we got several buckets here, leaders. We got the bucket for the personal houses of worship, the loan route, the state route which can take several years but I think if everyone can call, is there an application link you can drop? and then I had Sharon, I don’t know if there’s an application link for you. Just to make things easier but we did get the 1-800 number for FEMA. Let’s take advantage of that. That’s

just picking up and down those 10 numbers to see if we can get immediate questions answered

Marcus Coleman: Reverend Dr. Que English, Reverend English, I think one of the things I’d recommend, so FEMA and I know FEMA in the state, right? We have a direct website that covers all of the information specific to the state of New York so I’m gonna drop that in the chat. If people want to get back to that information and the good thing about that website that I just dropped in the chat is it provides multilingual support. So we know that many of you are supporting houses of worship that speak different languages. I want to thank all of our federal

government colleagues that are on the call and there’s two special guests that weren’t able to speak today but we have some voluntary agency liaisons on the line from the state of New York and FEMA region too. We’ll come back to all of that. I know that Reverend Dr. Que English, I just want to thank you all so much.

Reverend Dr. Que English: No, thank you, Marcus.

Marcus Coleman: Yeah, absolutely.

Reverend Dr. Que English: We’ll continue the dialogue because we have a lot, you know.

Marcus Coleman: Oh, Peter Gudaitis is gonna make sure of that and I know that you will too. We appreciate you all for having us but I did drop that and I’ll drop it one more time in the chat. Like I said, this is the FEMA specific website for the state of New York as it relates to hurricane Ida. It gives all the information that we’ve provided and more and it also provides links to be able to view the page in multiple languages.

Reverend Dr. Que English: That is so great. Thank you so much and then the last link, Tamara, if you have it just for those homeowners that can just hit it for the application that’ll be amazing. Thank you everyone for joining us today. I know our time has gone but I want to thank FEMA, I want to thank my amazing friends and co-hosts. I didn’t know if Peter, right before we end, we have another minute if you wanted to Peter G, Peter C, Joe, if you guys wanted to say anything before we left that would be, you know, the floor is open. If not, we’re going to get ready to close out. We do need a lot more discussions around this. I think we pretty much scratched the surface, particularly as the state gets its duck in a row. I’m sure we’ll all want to circle back here. Thank you everyone for participating. This has been helpful for all of us. We did record this and so we are going to post it and I’m asking my fellow faith leaders, community leaders, a small group of 70 plus, to let’s get the word out on our channels as well.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Thank you again and have a great afternoon.

Everyone: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Reverend Dr. Que English: Alrighty, bye-bye.

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