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President Biden Extends 100 Percent Cost Share for COVID-19 Public Assistance

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On November 9, 2021, President Joe Biden extended the 100 percent federal cost share for Public Assistance through April 1, 2022. This may indicate that the incident period and period of performance for the COVID-19 disasters will remain open through that date as well.

Public Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reimbursed via a cost share. This means that FEMA will reimburse a percentage of the total eligible costs and the applicant must pay the remainder. The amount of the federal share of the costs cannot be less than 75 percent. (42 U.S.C. §§ 5170b(b), 5172(b), 5173(d).) The most common cost share for Public Assistance is 75 percent from federal and 25 percent from non-federal sources, but different cost share rates do occur.

On August 17, the President ordered FEMA to pay a 100 percent federal cost share for COVID-19 emergency work through December 31, 2021. On November 9, 2021, the President extended the period of the 100 percent federal share through April 1, 2022. Thus, FEMA will cover 100 percent of the cost of eligible Public Assistance projects performed between January 20, 2020 and April 1, 2022.

Meanwhile, federal disaster declarations issued under the Stafford Act designate the "incident period," or the period of time during which a federally declared disaster is occurring. The disaster declarations for COVID-19 have established the incident period as "beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing."

Similarly, FEMA regulations and policy implementing the Stafford Act define "emergency work" that is eligible for Public Assistance from the agency. FEMA normally requires that all emergency work be completed within six months following the date of the disaster declaration (the period of performance, or PoP), unless either the recipient or FEMA Regional Administrator extends the deadline. For the first time in the agency's history, and limited only to the COVID-19 declarations, FEMA Headquarters extended the PoP indefinitely, stating, "For all COVID-19 declarations, FEMA has extended the deadline for completing emergency work indefinitely and will make notification of changes to this (i.e. establishing a deadline) no later than 30 days prior to the deadline."

Accordingly, the COVID-19 disaster currently has an open incident period and open period of performance. With the President's new memorandum extending the 100 percent federal cost share through April 1, 2022, it can be reasonably expected that at least the period of performance will remain open through that date as well.

If you have questions or concerns related to Public Assistance procedures or eligibility, or would like to learn more about FEMA assistance, please contact Erin Greten or any member of the Baker Donelson Disaster Recovery Group.

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Baker Donelson professional not admitted to the practice of law in Washington, D.C.; admitted to the Maryland, Virginia, and Michigan bars.

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