When I was first made aware that FEMA was conducting "Arm-chair" inspections I didn't think much about it because during the 2020 pandemic it was typical for federal agencies to follow CDC guidance. What I wasn't aware of was FEMA was asking homeowners to do their own damage assessments. That policy is still in effect today in 2022.
What could go wrong with allowing or I should say, requesting a homeowner describe the damages to their home, their primary residence which was damaged by a storm or other federally declared disaster? Really, want could go wrong?
The first thing that comes to mind is that not all people know how to inspect a structure for damage. It's no secret that most homeowners don't know how to maintain their homes let alone determine if a roof is wind damaged or a gable rake has pulled away or a foundation has shifted.
I was under the impression that inspectors would all be visiting homeowners to update their damage assessments. But today I can say I was wrong for thinking that and can make an estimate that their are 10's of thousands of homeowners in need of an FEMA inspection and don't know it or don't know how to ask for a physical inspection of both exterior and interior of their home even if they have completed repairs.
I am working with homeowners that have disaster damaged homes not covered by insurance and need to apply for state managed HUD grant assistance. FEMA will conduct a in home inspection so you can qualify for additional disaster assistance if you ask them to do a complete inspection for any storm after February 2020 to present. It's 2022 and I'm still hearing people are asked to do a self service style of inspection where the homeowner walks around taking pictures while talking to a call center representative from FEMA or they are actually on a video call showing via camera phone the damages. This is not in my opinion accurate and will disqualify thousands of uninsured, low-income moderate-income and under-insured households from receiving disaster grants that can assist with repairs of their home.
Follow along with the posts I will be making about getting into the HUD CDBG-DR Disaster Recovery Grant Program that is designed to assist homeowners, manufactured home owners, multi-family (duplex or greater) rental property owners with unmet needs or anything not covered by insurance that was required to make the structure habitable and safe again.