FEMA Ends Use of the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program in Future Disasters

October 16, 2019


FEMA continually conducts assessments to determine if program objectives are being met. As part of this process, a FEMA analysis determined the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) pilot program, under FEMA’s Public Assistance program, is not meeting its established objectives.

FEMA is notifying state, local, tribal, and territorial officials that the agency will no longer authorize the STEP pilot program in future disaster declarations. FEMA and its federal partners have several programs in the recovery toolbox to help disaster survivors find shelter and temporary housing once a Presidential declaration has been declared.

The purpose of STEP was to enable disaster survivors to shelter in their own houses on an emergency basis while temporary repairs were made. FEMA’s Public Assistance program would provide funding to reimburse eligible costs for emergency work on residential properties damaged by the declared event. The reimbursement was made to state, local, tribal, or territorial agencies performing or contracting for the emergency work under the authority of Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act).  Reimbursement also included associated costs for program management.

The analysis of the STEP pilot program identified some positive outcomes in each of the seven disasters where STEP was implemented. However, based on the complete findings, FEMA determined that it cannot in good faith continue to deliver the STEP pilot program, because the challenges of effective program delivery may be insurmountable. In particular, FEMA has found that repairs under the STEP pilot program generally cannot be made quickly enough to effectively serve as shelter under section 403.

Disaster survivors for future Presidentially declared disasters will continue to have access to a range of assistance programs to help them find shelter and temporary housing. Some of these resources that may be implemented if warranted or requested by the state include:

  • Individuals and Households Program financial assistance, including:
    • Lodging Expense Reimbursement for reasonable short-term accommodations
    • Rental Assistance to rent alternate housing
    • Home Repair or Replacement Assistance for homeowners who do not have adequate insurance
  • Sheltering solutions from state, tribal, and voluntary agencies, as well as evacuation and sheltering activities authorized under Section 403 of the Stafford Act
  • Transitional Sheltering Assistance (hotels/motels)
  • Disaster Case Management
  • Small Business Administration low interest disaster loans
  • HUD Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR)

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