Governor Abbott And AG Paxton Announce Approval Of Request To Authorize FEMA Assistance For Houses Of Worship Affected By Harvey

January 3, 2018 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved their request to allow churches and religious organizations to receive the same public assistance available to other nonprofits aiding in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, which was revised during the Obama era, previously only offered assistance to private non-profit organizations, including zoos, performing arts centers and museums, and until now excluded facilities established or primarily used for religious activities.

Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton sent a letter to President Donald Trump in September urging him to authorize this assistance.

"When Harvey moved across the Texas Gulf Coast, churches across the state opened their doors to those in need," said Governor Abbott. "Churches and other houses of worship continue to play a vital role in the ongoing recovery effort, and their ability to receive the same assistance available to other nonprofits should never have been in doubt. I thank FEMA and the Administration for their commitment to helping Texans and the churches that have helped their communities throughout the recovery and rebuilding process.”

“FEMA’s policy change averts the federal government violating the constitutional rights of those who continue to play a vital role in helping Texans get back on their feet after Hurricane Harvey,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Many churches and other houses of worship suffered damage from Harvey, and now they can seek FEMA assistance so they can continue serving their communities.”

This policy is effective for any major disaster declared on or after August 23, 2017.

View a copy of the letter.