FEMA Safe Room Rebates – General Information News & Alerts
FEMA Safe Room Rebates
FEMA through Oklahoma Emergency Management offers a grant under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to assist individuals with the cost of purchasing and having a safe room installed. Both above or below ground safe rooms, known to some as a shelter, are eligible under this grant if they meet design and installation requirements. The grant is a reimbursement grant, so the individual must pay for the entire cost up front and submit the required paperwork by the deadline for the eligible reimbursement amount. You must be approved for participation to be eligible for the rebate. For information on current McClain County Safe Room Rebate Application see our post on this site.
How the program works
Each jurisdiction that has an approved Hazard Mitigation Plan with FEMA is eligible to apply for the grant. Part of the application is to submit a list of individuals who wish to participate. The jurisdiction is required to submit a list of participants (citizens who want to apply for the grant with the jurisdiction) as a part of the grant application. The jurisdiction must have double the amount of participants on their list for the amount of safe rooms being requested. In other words, if McClain County wants to submit an application to request 100 safe rooms on the grant they must submit a list of 200 participants. This is due to the large number of people who drop out of the grant and the fact that once the state obligates that funding any unused portion must be returned to FEMA.
Once a jurisdiction has submitted an application with the list of participants all of the properties of the participants go for Environmental, Historical, Archeological, and Floodplain review. Once review is complete the state has up to 18 months to review and make a decision on the application. If the state approves the grant they then send it to FEMA for their review. FEMA also has up to 18 months to make a decision. There are times grants can be processed quickly and times they take a very long time. There are many factors that can impact how long it takes.
Once a jurisdiction is approved for the grant they must do a drawing to select from the approved list of participants to see who gets a safe room. All other participants are held as alternates in case a participant drops out. The jurisdiction then selects a start date, a completion date, and schedules a meeting with the participants and in some cases the alternates are also invited. The jurisdiction provides all the requirements and rules along with documentation that the participant will be required to submit to get their reimbursement. No work or contract with a safe room vendor can be done before the start date or the shelter is not eligible for reimbursement. All rules must be followed and all paperwork submitted by the completion date to be eligible for reimbursement. Much like the grant process itself, at times reimbursement is processed quickly and at times it can take a long time before you receive reimbursement. In many cases, and is the case with any McClain County grants, the reimbursement amount is 75% of the cost up to the maximum rebate of $2000.00.
At times it can be confusing because both the county and several jurisdictions will be running their own grant project. Each jurisdiction must wait to close one grant before they can start another. So when communities within the county can come up with enough participants to apply for a grant they do. You must live within city or town limits to participate in the community grant whereas all residents of McClain County can apply for grants done by the county no matter what community they live in. In addition, Oklahoma Emergency Management runs a rotating grant project called SoonerSafe that you can also register for. Citizens can apply for participation in multiple grant projects; however if you are approved as a participant for one you must drop out of the other.
Basic Requirements for Participation in a Safe Room Rebate Program
- Each local jurisdiction may have other rules and restrictions in addition to these.
- To be eligible, the safe room must be installed at primary residences and must be installed on property owned by the applicant.
- Apartment complexes, duplexes, and other multi-family residences are not eligible for this rebate, as they are considered businesses. This safe room rebate program is for single-family homes only.
- If you own two or more homes, you may only register for a safe room rebate for your primary residence.
- Community or neighborhood safe rooms are not eligible for this rebate.
- If you live in a mobile home, you must own both the mobile home itself and the land it is located on to be eligible for the rebate.
- If you live in a rented house you are not eligible for this rebate. Only single-family residential homeowners are eligible to receive the rebate for their primary residence.
- If you have already installed a safe room, are having it installed now, or are planning to have it installed at any time prior to receiving notification that you have been selected as a rebate recipient, that safe room is not eligible for this rebate. Previously installed safe rooms are not eligible.
- Retrofitting or repairing an existing storm shelter to meet FEMA specifications does not qualify. However, you may be eligible for a new safe room. You may not build or install the safe room yourself.
- If the safe room you choose to have installed is not a pre-fabricated or manufactured design, you or your contractor may be required to submit additional documentation to verify the safe room meets all federal regulations associated with this program.
- If your home is in a floodplain and you have flood insurance, you may be eligible for the rebate. You would not be eligible for a below ground safe room, but you may be eligible for an above ground safe room. However, other agencies will have to approve your specific situation. You may be required to provide more information. McClain County DOES NOT allow safe room rebate participation in the floodplain as this slows down the grant process due to additional documentation and requirements. Residents who have a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) are welcome to apply but you will need to provide a copy of your LOMA.
- If you live on historic property, or in a historic district you may be eligible for the rebate. However, other agencies will have to approve your specific situation. You may be required to provide more information.
- You must pay the total invoice for the safe room and installation in order to receive the rebate, as well as provide copies of the cleared check or credit card statement.
- Safe room lease agreements are not eligible.
- If you receive this rebate you will not have to claim it as income on your taxes. The safe room rebate is exempt from tax liability as a federally-funded assistance program.
- The Oklahoma Constitution provides that up to 100 square feet of a safe room installed after January 1, 2002 shall be exempt from taxation.
For more information about safe rooms visit FEMA’s Safe Room Resources page.