In a September 2017 post we commented on three churches (The Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle and Rockport First Assembly of God) which challenged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) policy of not providing disaster aid relief grants to religious institutions.

FEMA announced on January 3, 2018 that having revisited this policy it would no longer exclude houses of worship from disaster aid relief grants. According to FEMA, this change impacts organizations which sustained damage on or after August 23, 2017 or those organizations with applications that had been pending as of August 23, 2017. While the assistance is limited to those costs not covered by a U.S. Small Business Administration loan, this is a notable change in policy and is consistent with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer.