WHAT BENEFITS CAN I APPLY FOR TODAY?
UPDATED FRIDAY, SEPT. 22
Disaster SNAP benefits have just been approved. Residents of Pinellas, Bradford, Union, Alachua, Lake, Sumter, and Citrus counties can pre-register for two months of food assistance benefits today at the link below or by visiting a registration site in person starting Sept. 27.
To be eligible you must:
- have food loss, damage to home or business, lost, reduced, or delayed income due to the hurricane, or hurricane-related expenses not expected to be reimbursed within the next month, like evacuation expenses.
- have a household income & assets within the eligibility limits,
- provide proof of identity, and
- not be enrolled in SNAP/Food Stamps (see below for how to replace existing SNAP benefits).
To use the online pre-registration system, you must have a valid Florida license or ID. Other forms identification may be accepted at the in-person sites.
The following counties have also been approved for Disaster SNAP benefits, but are not yet able to pre-register. Stay tuned for updates in the coming days.
Baker, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Suwanee, and Volusia
Already have SNAP benefits (Food Stamps)? On Sept. 19, recipients in the counties listed below should automatically receive 40% of their food assistance allotment for September 2017, to replace food loss caused by Hurricane Irma.
Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Glades, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Suwanee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, and Wakulla
If you lost more food than what the 40% replacement covers or live in one of the remaining counties, an individual request with additional verification is required.
To make an individual claim, turn in the form at the link below to a DCF service center, by faxing it to 1-866-886-4342, calling or using your MyACCESS account by September 29, 2017.
Forms with FPL's logo across the top are not valid, FPL will not reimburse you for lost food.
SNAP benefits can be used for hot meals through September 30, 2017. Learn more about waivers and other updates for current recipients on DCF's website.
Students in Florida public schools included in the disaster declaration (see map below) will receive free school lunch through October 20, 2017.
Did you lose your job, or was your work or self-employment interrupted because of the hurricane? If so, you may be eligible for extra income through Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Apply by October 16, 2017 at the link below or by calling 1-800-385-3920 (Mon – Fri, 8 am – 5 pm).
If you are having trouble completing the application online or getting through the phone, don't give up! Individuals who have tried to apply for disaster unemployment have faced—a disaster! The Florida application process has glitches that cause almost everyone to be rejected—including many who qualify for aid.
Miami Workers Center raised the alarm and has asked that the application process be fixed. Legal allies—including lawyers at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Florida Legal Services, the National Employment Law Project, and Advocacy Partners Team—are working hard to make sure all disaster programs help those who need aid.
Once you are able to successfully apply, you’ll typically get a decision within 30 days. If you are improperly denied you’ll have 60 days to appeal. A lawyer may be able to help you appeal.
If Irma made your primary home unlivable or you have incurred disaster related expenses not otherwise covered, you may be eligible for FEMA benefits. FEMA awards benefits on a household basis, make sure only one person applies per address. See the LSGMI guide below for further eligibility guidelines. You until November 9 (60 days from the date of the disaster declaration) to apply for assistance.
Available Benefits May Include:
- Temporary Housing (a place to live for a limited period of time): Financial assistance may be available to homeowners or renters to rent a temporary place to live. If no rental properties are available, a government housing unit may be provided, but only as a last resort.
- Lodging Expenses Reimbursement: Reimbursement of hotel expenses for homeowners or renters may be available for short periods of time due to inaccessibility or utility outage if not covered by insurance or any other program.
- Repairs: Financial assistance may be available to homeowners to repair disater-caused damage to their primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, or fit to occupy.
- Replacement: Financial assistance may be available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to help the homeowner with the cost of replacing their destroyed home.
- Permanent or Semi-Permanent Housing Construction: Direct assistance or money for the construction of a home. This type of help occurs only in insular areas or other locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.
- Other Needs: Assistance is available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes: child care; medical and dental expenses; essential household items; clothing; tools required for job; fuel; clean up items; moving and storage expenses.
You can apply in the following ways:
- Toll-Free Hotline: 1-800-621-3362 (available from 7 AM to 11 PM EST, 7 days a week, multiple language options)
- Online: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/
- Mobile App: Can download FEMA application at https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app.
- In Person (when Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) open). Use the DRC Locator, there are no open DRCs at the moment.
WHICH FLORIDA COUNTIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS?
The September 10, 2017 Disaster Declaration and its amendments covers Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Desoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties. It was later updated to include Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Nassau, Suwannee, Union, Dixie and Lafayette counties.
WHERE DO I GO IF I'm A RENTER AND WORRIED ABOUT MY HOUSING?
Content provided courtesy of Legal Services of Greater Miami. Spanish & Haitian Creole translations provided by Coquí Language Collective.
To apply for legal help online, visit legalservicesmiami.org and click “Get Help” or call 305-576-0080.
The apartment I live in is needs repairs after the hurricane. What should I do? First, contact your landlord to notify her about the repairs that are needed. Take photos and videos of damage so you can document what happened. If repairs cannot be made quickly or the landlord refuses to make repairs, you should send the landlord a letter which lists what needs to be fixed and tells the landlord that you will not pay October’s rent if the landlord doesn’t make repairs within 7 days. This demand must be in writing. You can’t do it during a phone call. You can mail a letter, send an email or send a text. Make sure you keep a copy of whatever you send. If your rent is due on the 1st of the month, we recommend doing this no later than Friday, September 22, but you can still send the letter any time before the rent is due.
What if the landlord does not make repairs by October 1st? If you gave written notice to your landlord described in question one, do not pay your rent to the landlord. But, you must save your rent. If you sent the written notice, you will have a defense to an eviction for non-payment of rent. You will be required to deposit the rent with the court if the landlord files an eviction. If you don’t save your rent, you will likely be evicted and you won’t get a hearing or speak to a judge.
Can I make the repairs myself and deduct it from the rent? No. You can only do this if your landlord agrees to it, either in the lease or in a separate agreement. If your landlord tells you can use the rent to pay for repairs, make sure you get the agreement it in writing. An email or text from the landlord confirming the agreement will protect you later.
My place is unlivable after the hurricane. What can I do? If you have somewhere else to go, you can tell the landlord that the place is unlivable and you are moving out. Do this in writing and take photos. You won’t be responsible for any more rent under the lease. If only part of your home is unlivable, you have the right to move everything out of that part of your home and reduce your rent for that part of the home.
I have no power. Do I have to pay rent? Yes. In most cases, the loss of power after a hurricane requires FPL to fix lines and restore power. If you think the landlord caused the power outage or there are structural issues at the building preventing power from being restored, you should consult with a lawyer.
I couldn’t work during the storm and didn’t get paid. I don’t have the money for October’s rent. What should I do? First, you should talk to your landlord and see if she’d be willing to work with you and give you time to catch up on your rent. If not, you should contact the HAND program at 1-877-994-4357 to see if you qualify for rental assistance (in Miami-Dade County only). Unfortunately, the loss of income caused by a hurricane, is not a defense to an eviction for non-payment of rent. If you have received any eviction papers, you should contact Legal Services for advice.
All my stuff was destroyed when the roof fell in on the place I rent - what help can I get? If you don’t have renter’s insurance and you aren’t covered by your landlord’s insurance policy, you may be able to get Individual and Household Program (IHP) money from FEMA to replace necessary items of personal property such as clothing, household items, furnishings and appliances. You may apply for these benefits through FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 (hearing/speech impaired 1-800-462-7585). You can also apply on-line athttps://www.fema.gov/apply-assistance
My landlord told me to move out the next day because he wants the apartment for his daughter who lost her house in the hurricane, and told me if I wasn’t out, he’d change the locks - do I have to move? Florida law does not allow a landlord to lock you out or turn off the utilities or use any “self help” to get you to leave. The landlord must file an eviction action in court and, then you only have to move out after the judge orders you to be evicted by the Sheriff. Before filing an eviction, the landlord must first give you some type of written notice telling you to move. If you get any eviction papers, you can should contact Legal Services for advice. If the landlord locks you out or tries to force you out, call the police and contact Legal Services. You may have a claim for damages equal to three times the monthly rent.
WHERE CAN I GET HELP APPLYING OR APPEALING A DECISION?
- FANM Haitian Women of Miami is assisting weekdays 9-6PM at 100 NE 84th St, Miami, FL 33138
- Miami Workers Center is assisting with applications by appointment, by call or text Esi. Get legal assistance Friday, Sept. 29, from noon-7pm at 745 NW 54 St., Miami (entrance on 55th street).
- Catalyst Miami is assisting with applications at Culmer Community Service Center, 1600 NW 3 Ave, Monday-Friday, Sept. 15 from 11-3PM
- If you need legal help in Monroe or Miami-Dade County, contact Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. To apply for legal help online, visit legalservicesmiami.org and click “Get Help” or call: 305-576-0080.
- The Legal Aid Hotline for Hurricane Irma survivors in Florida who cannot pay for an attorney is open: 1-866-550-2929
- To find a legal aid office in another part of Florida, go to: floridalawhelp.org/find-legal-help
WHERE CAN I DONATE TO RELIEF EFFORTS?
What else can I do to help?
Right now, low-income communities of color need your support lifting up their stories and echoing their demands.
Miami is the most unequal place in the United States. Our neighborhoods were underwater long before Hurricane Irma made landfall. Unequal conditions before the storm all but guarantee an unequal recovery, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can and should recover in a way that responds to the unnatural disasters that put our communities in a constant state of emergency.
This is a call for a recovery that serves ALL Floridians. We need:
- Lights, Food and Water
- Equity in Relief and Recovery
- A Moratorium on Evictions
- A Moratorium on Deportations & Detainers
- A Moratorium on Firings
- and a Say in our Futures