Disaster Assistance Group
Disasters of all kinds can lead to many legal issues. Common problems include difficulties securing financial assistance from insurance companies or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), landlord-tenant disputes, title-clearing so survivors can seek home repair assistance, replacement of lost or damaged documents, and contractor fraud. TRLA’s Disaster Assistance (DAS) Group coordinates outreach in communities affected by disaster and works closely with local, state, and national partners on disaster preparation, response, and recovery efforts. The DAS Group includes two teams with disaster-specific expertise:
Both coordinate and supplement provision of legal services to disaster survivors by TRLA’s other practice teams. The DAS Group also coordinates outreach in communities affected by disaster, and works closely with local, state, and national partners on disaster preparation, response, and recovery efforts.
TRLA has provided a list of disaster resources, including fact sheets and videos about survivors' legal rights and options, which can help people advocate for themselves. The material addresses more than 25 topics, including public benefits for disaster survivors, post-disaster tenants' rights, unemployment insurance, and mortgage payments. Survivors who need further assistance should go to our Get Help page or call our Disaster Legal Aid hotline (855) 757-1570.
For attorneys representing or advocating for disaster survivors, TRLA has published a series of webinars that explain the process of appealing when FEMA has denied applications for assistance to repair homes and property.
Tracy Figueroa, Group Coordinator
DISASTER Benefits TEAM
The Disaster Benefits Team provides advice and representation for people seeking financial resources to help themselves, their families, or their small businesses recover from disasters. While every disaster is unique, the most common forms of financial assistance are FEMA assistance, insurance, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). With regard to FEMA, team members help clients navigate the agency's bureaucracy to seek financial aid from its Individuals and Households Program (IHP). Generally, cases are administrative and include appealing denials of aid or award amounts; pursuing extension of temporary shelter or rental assistance; and defending against recoupment demands. The team also pursues litigation to seek solutions to systemic FEMA problems. With regard to insurance issues, team members help clients who seek fair handling of their claims with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and the National Flood Insurance Program. Team members also help people who have applied for personal disaster loans from the SBA, especially as these issues relate to eligibility for IHP assistance.
Linley Boone-Almaguer, Team Manager
COMMUNITY Resilience Team
The Community Resilience Team works to help low-income people cope with all phases in the cycle of disaster recovery—preparation, response and recovery. Team members do community and organizational outreach, monitor recovery programs, and connect advocates on the team with recovery resources while incorporating concepts of fair housing and environmental justice into all of their work.
Services & Activities
Advocate for fair housing in disaster recovery and mitigation efforts;
Provide community education to disaster survivors and fellow advocates;
Collaborate with local, statewide, and national disaster assistance professionals to ensure that low-income people have access to and are included in disaster recovery and mitigation processes;
Identify and address obstacles to low-income households’ disaster recovery.
Rachel Zummo, Team Manager
government and community
Facts Sheets and videos
Aid and Financial Assistance
Food Benefits After Disasters [PDF]
About the Zika Virus [PDF]
Emergency Housing and Other Needs [PDF]
Disaster Unemployment Assistance [PDF]
Social Security & SSI After Disasters [PDF]
Self-Help Guide for Tenants [PDF]
Derechos de Educación [Video]
Utilities after Disaster [PDF]
Death Benefits [PDF]