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How to Get Federal Assistance to Build a Storm Shelter

Last Updated: July 31, 2022

Wow! This is possible?! Here’s a breakdown of the Safe Room Funding FEMA instructions for our fellow preppers, survivalists, and rational disaster-preppers.

storm shelter

From your normal person with three years of experience in the covid-19 pandemic to the grizzled veteran of a survivalist, a real storm shelter is a dream for most of us.

But, the government offers grants and support for safe rooms. Self-reliance often relates to passing barriers of entry in the form of applications and documents. Don’t lose out on your chances for free monetary support! Even with financing and governmental interest rates, they’ll be lower than the rates offered by banks for personal or construction loans.

FEMA Safe Room Funding

If you own your own home, your main route is to contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO). FEMA provides Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) funding to states, and your SHMO is in charge of handling applications for safe rooms (or your storm shelter/bunker).

Your State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) can advise you on what information must be provided for your project to be considered for funding, as well as any applicable federal, state, and local design requirements. Your SHMO will also be able to provide you with information on funding sources.


Once you’ve found out if you’re eligible (it’s just a phone call away), here are the types of funding.

Residential Funding

Funding opportunities are available for individuals wishing to build a residential safe room. Plan for diagrams, blueprints, and the relevance of a disaster and the appropriate safe room design.

Community Development Block Grant Funds

On December 3, 2003, the President signed into law the Tornado Shelters Act (Public Law 108-146), which amends the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, authorizing communities to use community development block grant funds to construct tornado-safe shelters in manufactured home parks.

To be eligible, a shelter must be located in a neighborhood or park that contains at least 20 units, consists predominately of low- and moderate-income households and is in a state where a tornado has occurred within the current year or last three years. The shelter must comply with tornado-appropriate safety and construction standards, be large enough to accommodate all members of the park/neighborhood and be located in a park/neighborhood that has a warning siren.

Community development block grant funds are funded through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • at least 20 homes/units in the area
  • low-moderate income housing
  • a tornado has to have occurred in the last three years
  • Comply with tornado and construction standards
  • large enough for everyone in the area
  • have a siren 🚨

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) helps states and local communities in implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures following a major disaster declaration.

As of November 1, 2004, all communities must have an approved hazard mitigation plan in place to remain eligible for HMGP funding. HMGP grants can be used to fund projects that provide protection to both public as well as private properties.

  • Check your local community’s hazard mitigation plan
  • Then, look for HMGP funding

Federal Housing Administration Mortgage-Insured Financing

On January 14, 2000, as part of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) continuing efforts to be responsive to public safety concerns, HUD began allowing borrowers to include windstorm shelters as an eligible work item for FHA 203(k) rehabilitation loans and FHA 203(b) financed new construction (see HUD Disaster Recovery Assistance).


How to Build Your Safe Room or Shelter in Line with FEMA

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publications presenting design and
construction guidance for both residential and community safe rooms have been available since 1998.

Since that time, tens of thousands of safe rooms have been built, and a growing number
of these safe rooms have already saved lives in actual events.

To date, FEMA has received no reported failures of a safe room constructed to FEMA criteria.

Taking Shelter from The Storm – Building or Installing a Safe Room in Your Home

Design Basis


Safe Room Size


Safe Room Locations


For more information on design features of your governmentally-partially-funded shelter, check out their pdf on Taking Shelter from The Storm – Building or Installing a Safe Room in Your Home.

Projects that are eligible under the HMGP grant

(but are not limited to):

  • Acquiring and demolishing or relocating structures from hazard-prone areas
  • Retrofitting structures to protect them from floods, high winds, earthquakes, or other natural hazards
  • Constructing residential and community shelters in tornado-prone areas

FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM)

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program Funds

Funds provide both planning and project funding to eligible communities.

PDM project funding is nationally competitive; there is no “base” amount guaranteed to each state.

A national priority is placed on projects that address National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) repetitive loss properties and a benefit-cost analysis is required for each proposed project.

Projects are awarded priority based on the state’s analysis and resulting ranking and on factors such as cost-effectiveness, addressing critical facilities, and the percent of the population that benefits from the project.

FEMA funds up to 75 percent of the cost of the project or up to 90 percent for small, impoverished communities.

There is a $3 million cap on the federal share of the cost per project.


We hope you enjoyed that extended overview on how to get grants or funding from FEMA for disaster prep in the form of a safe house and improvement for overall preparedness measures in your local community. Keep checking out our updated articles on Lessons Learned from Disasters for more preparation ideas and motivation.

“Always Be Ready” Max

Links and Resources

HMA Helpline at (866) 222-3580 | FEMA Safe Rooms Funding | Taking Shelter from The Storm – Building or Installing a Safe Room in Your Home | Pre-Disaster Mitigation Funds | Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants | FEMA Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration Fact Sheet on HMGP | State Hazard Mitigation Officers | Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance

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