You Are Not Alone: Help for Hurricane Harvey Victims
As a fellow Houstonian, living through Hurricane Harvey and witnessing its impact has been heart wrenching and downright devastating. However, the force of the storm is outmatched by the outpouring of compassion from fellow Texans and the nation. No matter your circumstances in the aftermath of Harvey, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. At the Law Office of Stacy M. Allen, we want to do our part to ensure you are well-informed and equipped to start the process of rebuilding your life. We will update this blog entry regularly with additional information as more resources are made available.
Below are links to resources to start your road to recovery:
Disaster Unemployment Assistance: Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment or who are no longer working as a direct result of a major disaster for which a disaster assistance period is declared, and who applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. If you lost your job because of Hurricane Harvey, you can apply for unemployment benefits online at: https://apps.twc.state.tx.us/UBS/security/logon.do.
Worker Protections After a Disaster: Employers may not discharge or discriminate against employees who evacuate under emergency evacuation orders. Employers who violate this provision are liable for any loss of wages or employer-provided benefits and must reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position. To learn more about what you can do if your rights as a worker have been violated: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/disaster-unemployment-assistance.
Business Disaster Loans: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers affordable financial help to businesses and private, non-profit organizations in a declared disaster area. Help is available in the form of low-interest, long-term loans for losses not fully covered by insurance or other means.
Businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace:
Damaged or destroyed real estate.
Machinery and equipment.
Inventory and other business assets.
In some cases, SBA may be able to refinance all or part of a prior mortgage or lien. The SBA also offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) up to $2 million to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.
You may apply at any time with SBA’s online Disaster Loan Application here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
Convert Your Federal Benefit Check to Direct Deposit/Debit Card: Don't let a disaster come between you and your money. If you get federal benefit payments by paper check, you can switch to direct deposit. This includes payments from Social Security Administration (SSA), Veterans Affairs (VA), Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), and Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Your money is directly deposited into a checking or savings account on payment day each month and removes the risk of a delayed payment due to a disaster event. You may choose from two electronic payment options: Direct Deposit - Your payment is deposited into your checking or savings account. Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® - A prepaid debit card you can use to make retail purchases, pay bills, and get cash back. It’s a no- or low-cost alternative to paper checks. To convert your paper check to digital currency, go to: https://fiscal.treasury.gov/GoDirect/
FEMA Housing & Other Needs Assistance: The FEMA Individuals and Households Program (IHP) Housing Assistance helps people affected by a disaster. It provides money, up to the program maximum, for necessary housing-related expenses and serious needs that can’t be met through other means. Housing assistance under IHP includes: temporary housing, repair or replacement of existing home, semi-permanent or permanent housing construction.
FEMA Other Needs Assistance (ONA) helps people affected by a disaster. It provides money, up to the program maximum, for necessary expenses and serious needs, not housing related, that can’t be met through other means. Other needs assistance under IHP includes: personal property, childcare, medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial costs, and transportation. You can apply for FEMA housing and for other needs assistance here: http://bit.ly/2iIdEdL
Low Income Energy Assistance Program: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills. LIHEAP may be able to offer help for the following: home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization and minor energy-related home repairs.To learn if you qualify for this program, contact the Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP division via phone at (512) 475-3951, email: email@example.com, and visit the website at: http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/community-affairs/index.htm
Legal Services Hotline: The State Bar of Texas has established a legal hotline – (800) 504-7030 – to help people find answers to basic legal questions and connect them with local legal aid providers following disasters in Texas.
The resources listed above are not exhaustive, there are many ways to receive assistance after a disaster. Everyone is encouraged to visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov, enter your information and view of full list of federal services that can help you in your time of need.
Stacy M. Allen has served as counsel on an array of legal matters including civil and criminal law, family law, bankruptcy, and even terrorism cases. Stacy is a proud graduate of St. Edward’s University where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a concentration in Latin America, and of Howard University School of Law, in Washington, DC, where she served as President of the Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy Moot Court Team. Her current practice focuses on a variety of civil litigation and criminal law matters.
Stacy M. Allen, Attorney at Law (@SMAllen_Esq)