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How To Get Federal Assistance To Build A Storm Shelter

How To Get Federal Assistance To Build A Storm Shelter

How To Get Federal Assistance To Build A Storm Shelter
photo: wikimedia.org

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Storm shelters play a vital role in safeguarding lives and property during severe weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides funding assistance for the construction of storm shelters through various programs aimed at mitigating hazards and ensuring community resilience. While individual homeowners cannot directly apply to FEMA for funding, this article will guide you through the process of securing federal assistance to build a storm shelter.

  1. Contact Your State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO)

To access federal funding for safe rooms, you should begin by reaching out to your State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO). SHMOs are responsible for managing and distributing FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) funding to local governments and eligible entities. They can provide you with crucial information regarding project eligibility, financial assistance, and the necessary requirements for your storm shelter project.

  1. Residential Funding

FEMA offers funding opportunities for individuals seeking to build residential safe rooms. Your SHMO will guide you on the specific information you need to provide to qualify for funding. They will also assist you in understanding federal, state, and local design requirements, as well as potential funding sources.

  1. Community Development Block Grant Funds

The Tornado Shelters Act (Public Law 108-146) enables communities to use Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for constructing tornado-safe shelters, particularly in manufactured home parks. To be eligible for CDBG funding, the shelter must meet specific criteria, including being located in a neighborhood or park with at least 20 units, primarily consisting of low- and moderate-income households, and situated in an area with recent tornado activity. CDBG funds are administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

  1. Federal Housing Administration Mortgage-Insured Financing

HUD allows borrowers to include windstorm shelters as an eligible work item for FHA 203(k) rehabilitation loans and FHA 203(b) financed new construction. Shelters financed with FHA-insured mortgages must adhere to FEMA P-320 guidelines for building safe rooms for homes. If you plan to finance your storm shelter with an FHA-insured mortgage, it’s essential to meet the prescribed safety and construction standards.

  1. Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) assists states and local communities in implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures following a major disaster declaration. To be eligible for HMGP funding, communities must have an approved hazard mitigation plan in place. HMGP grants can be used to fund projects that provide protection to both public and private properties. FEMA can fund up to 75 percent of eligible project costs, and the state or local match can be in-kind services or materials. Applications for HMGP funding should be made through the State Hazard Mitigation Officer.

  1. Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Funds

FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Funds provide planning and project funding to eligible communities. These funds are awarded based on a competitive national priority system, with a particular emphasis on projects that address National Flood Insurance Program repetitive loss properties. FEMA can fund up to 75 percent of the project cost, and up to 90 percent for small, impoverished communities. The federal share of the project cost is capped at $3 million per project.


Federal assistance for building storm shelters is available through various programs designed to reduce the risk to people and property during severe weather events. By contacting your State Hazard Mitigation Officer and understanding the eligibility criteria and funding sources, you can take steps to secure the necessary funding to construct a safe room that will protect you and your community during storms. Building storm shelters is not only an investment in safety but also in the resilience of your home and community.

How To Get Federal Assistance To Build A Storm Shelter

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