FEMA Assistance Available to Cities for Costs Related to COVID-19

March 23, 2020

The state of Minnesota has officially submitted its request to FEMA and, once this grant is approved, cities will be briefed on the funding process.

Under the Presidential National Emergency Declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is authorized to reimburse local governments for costs associated with “emergency protective measures” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These emergency protective measures are defined in Category B of the Public Assistance Program of the Stafford Act.

Emergency Protective Measures (Category B)

In accordance with the Presidential National Emergency Declaration, FEMA will reimburse local governments up to 75% of the cost for actions taken before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, and to protect public health and safety. Examples of measures that may be eligible for reimbursement include:

  • Warning of risks and hazards.
  • Emergency mass care.
  • Transportation, care, shelter, and essential needs for humans affected by the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Protection, security for an eligible facility and areas.
  • Provision of food, water, ice, and other essential items at central distribution points.
  • Temporary generators for facilities that provide health and safety services (this may include mobile health services).
  • Temporary facilities essential community services (this may include clinics and mobile health care units).
  • Emergency operations centers to coordinate and direct the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Removal of health and safety hazards.

Congress and the administration may approve additional reimbursements for expenses of other essential protective measures by passing supplemental appropriations bills or administrative actions.

What should local governments do?

Due to the president’s emergency declaration, cities do not need to declare a local emergency in order to qualify to receive funding from FEMA. FEMA assistance will require execution of a FEMA State/Tribal/Territory Agreement, as appropriate, and execution of an applicable emergency plan.

The state of Minnesota, as a recipient, has officially submitted its request to FEMA and, once this grant is approved, cities will be briefed on the funding process. The League will be monitoring this process and will update cities on any new information.

In light of this unprecedented situation, cities are urged to carefully document their expenditures and dedicated staff time, preserve all receipts, and in this case (because of the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic), cities should keep a log of actions taken and a brief description and justification as to why an effort or expense was necessary in regards to addressing the emergency situation on the ground.  The better the record keeping, the easier it’ll be for local units of government to get through the paperwork maze when funds become available.

The League will continuously monitor this issue and will update cities on further developments.