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Texas disaster assistance for the 2021 Winter Storm

Where to get help for yourself and your business after the major disaster declaration in the Lone Star state.

A range of federal and local financial assistance programs are available if you've been impacted by the winter storm in 2021. President Joe Biden declared Texas a disaster area due to the extreme weather conditions, making federal assistance programs available to residents of 108 counties that were hit the hardest.

Here's how to get help to cover home repairs, sky-high electric bills, food and other storm-related costs.

SBA extends disaster loan deferment until 2022

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has extended the deferment period for all disaster loans until 2022. You now have 18 months after you receive the funds before you have to start making payments.

This affects Home and Personal Property loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and Business Physical Disaster loans related to the 2021 winter storm.

Housing assistance

You can use a few federal and programs to cover costs related to property damage from the winter storm.

SBA Home and Personal Property loans

  • What it's for: Repairing and replacing a home or personal property
  • Loan amount: Up to $200,000 for homeowners, $40,000 for renters
  • Interest rate: Up to 4% if you can't qualify for credit elsewhere — otherwise up to 8%
  • Terms: Up to 30 years
  • Collateral: Required on loans over $25,000, when possible
  • Where to apply: SBA disaster loan website
  • Customer service line: 800-659-2955

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-cost loans to individuals located in a disaster area. Homeowners can use the funds to replace or repair damage to their primary residence. Renters can use the loan to replace or repair personal property like appliances, furniture and cars damaged in the disaster.

Loans over $25,000 require collateral when possible — usually the real estate you're using the loan to repair. But you won't be automatically denied if you don't have collateral.

How to apply

You can get started by filling out a form on the SBA disaster loan website. These loans are available directly through the SBA and not SBA lenders. After you submit your application, the SBA will send an inspector to estimate the cost of damage before you can complete the application.

FEMA IHP

  • What it's for: Reimbursement for temporary housing, home repair and replacement, other serious needs
  • Eligibility: Valid Social Security number, located in disaster area, unmet financial need after insurance
  • Required documents: Insurance determination letter, proof of occupancy or homeownership, state-issued ID
  • Where to apply: DisasterAssistance.gov, 800-621-3362 or in person at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering grants to Texans through the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). The IHP is mainly meant to cover housing-related costs left after insurance coverage. This includes temporary housing — like reimbursement for hotel costs or a temporary housing unit — and repairing or replacing your primary residence.

You can also use it for other disaster-related costs. These can include moving expenses, repairing and replacing personal property, childcare, funerals, medical expenses and more.

How to apply

You can apply for FEMA assistance online, over the phone or at a FEMA DRC in your area — which you can find on DisasterAssistance.gov. Follow these steps before you start the application.

  1. Take a photo of your home
  2. Make a list of all damaged and lost items
  3. File a claim with your insurance company, if you have insurance
  4. Gather all required documents

HUD Assistance

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will offer disaster assistance to people located in a declared disaster area. These include the following types of programs.

  • Foreclosure relief. A 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA mortgages.
  • Mortgage insurance. FHA insurance will be available to Texans who need to rebuild or repair their homes after the disaster.
  • Financing to rebuild or buy a home. You can get up to 100% financed through HUD if you need to rebuild or buy a new home, including closing costs. You can also use a HUD mortgage to finance repairs to a single-family home.
How to apply

You can sign up for an appointment with a HUD housing counseling agency to go over your options. Mortgages are available through HUD-approved lenders and insurance is available through FHA-approved lenders.

Energy bill assistance

You can apply for the following types of assistance programs if you were on a variable-rate energy plan during the storm.

LIHEAP

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program offers assistance to low-income households who need help with energy bills. You may need to provide recent tax returns or pay stubs, your electric bill and other information related to the situation.

How to apply

Assistance is available through local utility bill assistance providers. Here's how to find one near you.

  1. Go to the Texas Department of Housing website
  2. Select Utility bill payment help
  3. Search for your city and county at the bottom of the page
  4. Reach out to a utility bill assistance provider in your area

State assistance

While Texas doesn't have any energy assistance programs up and running yet, it may in the future. The Department of Energy Management is asking Texans to fill out a survey about damages you suffered during the storm. Surveys are available in English and Spanish.

Food assistance

Local restaurants, nonprofits and mutual aid organizations have been a lifeline to Texans faced with melted freezers and empty grocery shelves. There are also a few federal programs that can help you cover your food costs.

Disaster SNAP Benefits

  • What it’s for: Food-related costs for those who aren’t already receiving SNAP benefits
  • Eligibility: Live in a disaster area, suffered loss of income or destruction of property or another disaster expense, not receiving SNAP benefits before disaster, meet income requirements
  • Where to apply: YourTexasBenefits.com
  • Contact: 877-541-7905 or call 211

Texans in disaster areas can apply for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, or D-SNAP. This offers short-term assistance to help you cover food-related expenses while you return home and wait for normal access to electricity and grocery stores to resume.

You aren’t eligible for this program if you already receive SNAP benefits.

How to apply

Set up an account as soon as you can on YourTexasBenefits.com to get started on your application.

Extended SNAP benefits

  • What it’s for: Food-related costs for those already enrolled in SNAP benefits
  • Eligibility: Enrolled in SNAP, located in a disaster area
  • Where to apply:YourTexasBenefits.com
  • Contact: 877-541-7905 or call 211

Texans who are already enrolled in SNAP can use their benefits to buy previously ineligible products. These include hot and prepared foods from grocery stores and other retailers that accept SNAP benefits.

If you lost food during the storm due to electrical outages or property damage, you can also apply for replacement benefits.

How to apply

Log on to your account on YourTexasBenefits.com to fill out the application for additional assistance. Or, log in using the Your Texas Benefits mobile app.

Does Texas offer disaster unemployment assistance?

Texas isn’t offering disaster unemployment assistance for people affected by the winter storm as of February 23, 2021. But you can qualify for unemployment assistance if you’ve lost work due to COVID-19.

Visit the Texas Workforce Commission’s website for the latest news on unemployment benefits.

Small business disaster loans

Texas businesses might be able to qualify for two different types of SBA disaster loans if they're located in a disaster area.

EIDLs

  • What it's for: Working capital to help your business survive until it can resume normal operations
  • Eligibility: Small business, small agricultural cooperative or nonprofit organization, located in a disaster area, unable to meet normal operating expenses, unable to get credit elsewhere
  • Loan amount: Up to $2 million
  • Interest rate: Up to 4%
  • Terms: Up to 30 years
  • Where to apply: SBA disaster loan website
  • Customer service: 800-659-2955

The SBA is also offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to cover working capital expenses for small businesses located in disaster areas. And yes, you can qualify for this disaster loan even if you received EIDL funding for COVID-19.

How much you receive is based on your company's financial needs and how much business you lost due to the disaster. This loan doesn't cover property damage — you'll need to apply for another SBA disaster loan for that.

How to apply

Like with the SBA Home and Personal Property Loan, you can fill out an application on the SBA's disaster loan website. Since this loan is based on financial damage, the SBA doesn't require a site visit.

Business Physical Disaster loans

  • What it's for: Repairing and replacing damaged property not covered by insurance
  • Eligibility: Suffered physical damage to property that isn't covered by insurance
  • Loan amount: Up to $2 million
  • Interest rate: Up to 4% if you can't qualify for credit elsewhere, otherwise up to 8%
  • Terms: Up to 30 years
  • Where to apply: SBA disaster loan website
  • Customer service: 800-659-2955

The SBA is also offering disaster loans to small businesses that suffered physical damage to property. This includes repairing or replacing the following:

  • Real estate
  • Machinery
  • Inventory
  • Equipment
  • Fixtures
  • Leasehold improvements

Your loan amount is based on the extent of the damage after insurance coverage. If you make improvements that can help prevent future damage, you might be able to receive a 20% increase from your original loan amount.

How to apply

The application process is similar to the SBA Home and Personal Property Loan. You can get started by filling out a form on the SBA website. After the SBA receives your form, it will send an inspector to assess the damage and give you an estimate of the cost.

Compare more SBA loans

If an EIDL isn't enough, a regular SBA could help. The SBA is offering discounted fees and guaranteeing up to 100% of some loan programs as part of the most recent round of coronavirus relief. See if your business qualifies with one of these providers.

Name Product Filter Values Loan amount APR Requirements

Fora Financial business loans
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5: ★★★★★

Fora Financial business loans
$5,000 – $500,000
Varies
6+ months in business, $12,000+ monthly revenue, no open bankruptcies
Get qualified for funding in minutes for up to $500,000 without affecting your credit score. Best for companies with at least six figures in annual revenue.

Lendio business loans
Finder Rating: 4.75 / 5: ★★★★★

Lendio business loans
$500 – $5,000,000
Starting at 6%
Operate business in US or Canada, have a business bank account, 560+ personal credit score
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 300 legit business lenders.

National Funding business loans
Finder Rating: 4.75 / 5: ★★★★★

National Funding business loans
$5,000 – $500,000
4% to 8%
Be in business at least one year and make at least $150,000 in annual sales. Other loan types have additional requirements.
Working capital loans and equipment financing, some high-risk industries may be eligible.

Fundbox lines of credit
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★

Fundbox lines of credit
$1,000 – $150,000
Not stated
6 + months in business, $100,000+ in annual revenue, 600+ credit score
Get flat rate, short-term financing based on the financial health of your business, not your credit score.

Bitty Advance business cash advances
Finder Rating: 2.8 / 5: ★★★★★

Bitty Advance business cash advances
$2,000 – $25,000
Not applicable
$5,000 monthly bank revenue, 6+ months in business, business bank account open 3+ months, 450+ credit score
With APRs in the triple digits, this is best saved as a last resort.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Debt relief

There's no official debt relief program in place for Texans affected by the 2021 winter storm. But federal agencies like the Federal Reserve are calling on financial institutions to make it easy for individuals and businesses to get help if they can't make payments on debt.

If you're struggling with loan payments, you may be able to modify the terms to fit your current financial situation better. If you think you just need assistance for a few months, ask about deferment or forbearance.

National Debt Relief

National Debt Relief

  • No cancellation fees
  • Low minimum to enroll
  • No upfront fees
Go to site
on National Debt Relief's secure site
Minimum debt required$7,500
Turnaround time24–48 months
Costs15–25% of total enrolled debt
ServicesDebt settlement
Free quote or consultationYes

Tax relief

The IRS moved the federal tax deadline until June 15, 2021 for Texas businesses and residents — not just those living in disaster areas. Taxpayers also can make IRA contributions up until June 15, 2021.

You will automatically be considered to be eligible for this extended deadline if you live in a disaster area. Those who live outside of a disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline to request relief at 866-562-5227.

Optima Tax Relief

Optima Tax Relief

  • Negotiations are handled by a tax professional
  • Highly rated by the BBB
  • 15-day money back guarantee
Go to site
on Optima Tax Relief's secure site
Minimum debt required$10,000.
Turnaround time2 to 6 months.
ServicesNegotiation and settlement, IRS audit defense, tax levies and liens, wage garnishment, back taxes, end penalties and interest.
Free quote or consultationOnline form.

Counties eligible for federal disaster assistance

You can apply for an SBA disaster loan, FEMA assistance and other federal assistance if you live in one of these 108 Texas counties. Officially, this applies to damage that occurred on or after February 11, 2021.

  • Anderson
  • Angelina
  • Aransas
  • Austin
  • Bastrop
  • Bee
  • Bell
  • Bexar
  • Blanco
  • Bosque
  • Bowie
  • Brazoria
  • Brazos
  • Brown
  • Burleson
  • Burnet
  • Caldwell
  • Calhoun
  • Cameron
  • Chambers
  • Cherokee
  • Collin
  • Colorado
  • Comal
  • Comanche
  • Cooke
  • Coryell
  • Dallas
  • Denton
  • DeWitt
  • Erath
  • Ellis
  • Falls
  • Fannin
  • Fort Bend
  • Freestone
  • Galveston
  • Gillespie
  • Gonzalez
  • Grayson
  • Gregg
  • Grimes
  • Guadalupe
  • Hardin
  • Harris
  • Harrison
  • Hays
  • Henderson
  • Hidalgo
  • Hill
  • Hood
  • Houston
  • Hunt
  • Jackson
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson
  • Jim Wells
  • Johnson
  • Jones
  • Kaufman
  • Kendall
  • Lavaca
  • Liberty
  • Limestone
  • Lubbock
  • Madison
  • Matagorda
  • Maverick
  • McLennan
  • Medina
  • Milam
  • Montague
  • Montgomery
  • Nacogdoches
  • Navarro
  • Nueces
  • Orange
  • Palo Pinto
  • Panola
  • Parker
  • Polk
  • Rockwall
  • Rusk
  • Sabine
  • San Jacinto
  • San Patricio
  • Scurry
  • Shelby
  • Smith
  • Stephens
  • Tarrant
  • Taylor
  • Tom Green
  • Travis
  • Tyler
  • Upshur
  • Val Verde
  • Van Zandt
  • Victoria
  • Walker
  • Waller
  • Washington
  • Wharton
  • Wichita
  • Williamson
  • Wilson
  • Wise
  • Wood

Bottom line

Texans who live in disaster areas have several choices to help cover costs related to property damage and other living expenses. Some of these programs are similar, so review all your options to decide which is best for you.

And if you need help due to COVID-19, read our guide to coronavirus assistance programs.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to common questions you might have about getting assistance after the 2021 winter storm.

Is FEMA covering energy bills for Texans affected by the winter storm?

No, FEMA doesn't offer assistance on energy bills if you've been affected by the winter storm. FEMA assistance can only cover the cost of temporary rentals and home repairs. A local organization might be able to offer some help, however.

Can FEMA cover my insurance deductible after the winter storm?

No, FEMA will not pay your homeowner's insurance deductible. This federal agency only offers assistance to expenses that insurance doesn't cover and can't help with insurance-related expenses.

Does FEMA offer $800 food vouchers to Texas residents affected by the winter storm?

No, FEMA doesn't offer food assistance. But you can apply for a D-SNAP card and look to local organizations like food pantries and assistance programs.

Can I use an SBA disaster loan to refinance a mortgage or make additions to my property?

In some cases, yes. The SBA allows you to use a disaster loan to upgrade or make additions to your home or business if your local building code requires it. And you can use the loan to refinance a home loan if you can't qualify for credit and have enough damage that isn't covered by insurance.

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