Eligible Costs


This page covers a condensed version of the general eligibility requirements for the Public Assistance Program on work and facilities.  Additional information is available through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide

Through the Public Assistance Program, FEMA provides grant funding for:

• Emergency protective measures and debris removal (Emergency Work); and
• Permanent restoration of damaged facilities, including cost-effective hazard mitigation to protect the facilities from future damage (Permanent Work).

At a minimum, work must meet each of the following three general criteria to be eligible:

• Be required as a result of the declared incident;
• Be located within the designated area; and
• Be the legal responsibility of an eligible Applicant.

Result of Declared Incident

The Applicant is responsible for showing that work is required:

• Due to an immediate threat resulting from the declared incident (Emergency Work); or
• To address damage caused by the declared incident (Permanent Work, temporary repairs, and mold remediation).

The Applicant must demonstrate that the debris causing an immediate threat was generated by the declared incident during the declared incident period.

The Applicant must demonstrate that damage was caused directly by the declared incident. FEMA does not provide PA funding for repair of damage caused by:

• Deterioration;
• Deferred maintenance;
• The Applicant’s failure to take measures to protect a facility from further damage; or
• Negligence.

When necessary to validate damage, the Applicant may be required to provide:

• Pre-incident photographs of the impacted site or facility; and/or
• Documentation supporting pre-disaster condition of the facility (e.g., facility maintenance records, inspection/safety reports).

If a facility was functioning prior to the disaster and the disaster caused damage that rendered the facility non-functional, the facility may be eligible provided the pre-disaster condition was not a significant contributing factor in the cause of failure.

Within Designated Area 

To be eligible, the facility must be located, and work must be performed, in the designated area defined in the declaration [except for sheltering, evacuation, and EOC activities]. The sheltering, evacuation and EOC activities must be used for a declared area. Emergency Work or Permanent Work performed on a facility located outside of the designated area is ineligible. This is true even if an eligible Applicant is legally responsible for the work, including work performed outside the designated area to protect a facility within the designated area.

Legal Responsibility

To be eligible, work must be the legal responsibility of the Applicant requesting assistance.

To determine legal responsibility for Emergency Work, FEMA evaluates whether the Applicant requesting the assistance either had jurisdiction over the area or the legal authority to conduct the work related to the request at the time of the incident.

To determine legal responsibility for Permanent Work, FEMA evaluates whether the Applicant claiming the costs had legal responsibility for disaster-related restoration of the facility at the time of the incident based on ownership and the terms of any written agreements (such as for facilities under construction, leased facilities, and facilities owned by a Federal agency).

Work Under the Authority of Other Federal Agencies

Other Federal Agencies (OFAs) have authority to conduct work that may overlap with FEMA’s authority. FEMA’s authority is broad and most OFA authorities are more specific than FEMA’s authorities.

FEMA evaluates its authorities against OFA authorities. Some of the Factors that FEMA considers when evaluating whether an OFA has more specific authority are whether the OFA’s authority is specifically and exclusively:

• Available for a particular type of facility, work, or activity;
• Applicable to a Presidential Declaration under the Stafford Act;
• Specific to an incident or type of incident; or
• Delineated under direction by Congress.

In such cases, FEMA does not provide assistance for the facilities or work even if that OFA does not provide funding for the facility or work. This restriction includes any activities or costs related to the work that falls under OFA authorities as the costs are not related to eligible work. The Applicant should apply to the respective agency for assistance with a facility or work under that agency’s authority.

In general, a facility must be determined eligible for work to be eligible.  A facility is a building, system, or equipment, built or manufactured, or an improved and maintained natural feature. An example of a system that qualifies as a facility is a water distribution system. Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other systems that are components of a facility in which they operate are considered part of that facility.  A natural feature is improved and maintained if it meets all of the following conditions:

• The natural feature has a designed and constructed improvement to its natural characteristics, such as a terraced slope or realigned channel;
• The constructed improvement enhances the function of the unimproved natural feature; and
• The Applicant maintains the improvement on a regular schedule to ensure that the improvement performs as designed.

Only the section of a natural feature that meets the criteria above is eligible. For example, if only 150 linear feet of a natural channel bank is armored with rip rap and maintained, the eligible facility would be limited to that 150-linear-foot section.

The following are ineligible facilities:

• Unimproved property (e.g., a hillside or slope, forest, natural channel bank); and
• Land used for agricultural purposes. 

Public Facility

An eligible public facility is one that a State or Local government owns or has legal responsibility for maintaining, including any:

• Flood control, navigation, irrigation, reclamation, public power, sewage treatment and collection, water supply and distribution, watershed development, or airport facility;
• Non-Federal-aid street, road, or highway;
• Other public building, structure, or system, including those used for educational, recreational, or cultural purposes; or
• Park.

When a facility maintained by a Community Development District is not open to the general public or does not provide a service to the general public, the facility is ineligible.

Private Non-Profit Facility

An eligible PNP facility is one that provides educational, utility, emergency, medical, or custodial care, including for senior citizens or individuals with disabilities, and other essential social-type services to the general public.

If a PNP operates multiple facilities, or a single facility composed of more than one building, FEMA must evaluate each building independently, even if all are located on the same grounds. Buildings that are part of a complex that includes outdoor facilities (e.g., swimming pools, athletic fields, or tennis courts) are not evaluated separately from the rest of the complex when determining eligibility of the building. For example, an outdoor pool usually has a building for bathrooms and controlling entry. In such cases, FEMA does not evaluate the building for eligibility separately because it is an intrinsic part of the pool complex.

Mixed-Use Facility or Mixed-Use Space

Eligibility for mixed-use facilities or space that provide both eligible and ineligible services is dependent on the primary use of the facility, which is determined by the amount of physical space and/or operating time dedicated to eligible and ineligible services.

Use by Multiple Entities

In cases where a PNP Applicant shares use of a facility, it is only eligible if the facility is primarily owned by the PNP Applicant and meets the primary use requirement. FEMA prorates funding for these facilities based on the percentage of physical space that the Applicant owns and dedicates to eligible services.

Small Business Administration Loan Requirement

Eligible PNPs that provide a non-critical, essential social service must apply for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  Whether the PNP accepts the funding, FEMA will only cover the amount that SBA will not cover.

If the PNP misses the SBA application deadline, including any SBA approved extension, the Permanent Work is ineligible for FEMA PA funding.

Inactive or Partially Inactive Facility

To be eligible, a facility must have been in active use at the start of the incident period. Inactive facilities are ineligible, unless one of the following conditions is met:

• The facility was only temporarily inactive for repairs or remodeling (provided a contractor is not responsible for repair of disaster-related damage);
• The Applicant firmly established future active use in an approved budget; or
• The Applicant can clearly demonstrate its intent to begin use within a reasonable amount of time.

Facility Scheduled for Repair or Replacement

Facilities that are not yet under contract but are scheduled for repair or replacement using non-Federal funds are eligible provided that the claimed damage did not exist prior to the incident (FEMA may review procurement and contract documents to validate). If damage existed prior to the incident, only the repair of damage caused by the incident is eligible.

A facility scheduled for replacement within 12 months of the start of the incident period using Federal funds is ineligible. In such a case, the Applicant should coordinate with the agency funding the project to expedite replacement, if possible.