New CDBG Plan Gives $ to Homeowners - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

New CDBG Plan Gives $ to Homeowners

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Minot's city council has approved a plan designed to bring 35 million dollars in federal flood recovery funds to the city.

Council members voted late this afternoon to approve the Community Development Block Grant application prepared by city staff and a consulting firm.

It's the second batch of CDBG money that the city has qualified for.

The first award from the Department of Housing and Urban Development amounted to more than 67-million dollars - with very little of that going directly to individual flood victims.

But this second wave of CDBG funding includes some new rules that could mean some financial relief for people whose homes were damaged by the 2011 flood.

Jim Olson reports.

After Hurricane Katrina, billions of federal dollars were sent to states hit by the storm and, as an example, Louisiana residents whose homes were damaged qualified for up to 150-thousand dollars in direct aid from Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG funds. But by the time the Mouse River was roaring through Minot in 2011, Congress had decided direct payments to disaster victims were a bad idea. When Minot received almost 70-million dollars in CDBG funds in 2012, there was only a limited program to hire contractors to do work for low income residents who were rebuilding. But then Superstorm Sandy hit New York, New Jersey, and other points in the northeast last October. And Congress decided maybe it was OK to send money directly to disaster victims. So the new batch of CDBG money approved by Congress had some new rules for its distribution.

(Cindy Hemphill, Minot City Finance Director) "They made a decision that we would be able to directly reimburse homeowners for expenses that were incurred."

That means that five million of the city's expected 35 million dollars in this second round of CDBG money will be set aside to be paid directly to homeowners who got to work quickly trying to rebuild after the 2011 flood.

(Cindy Hemphill, Minot City Finance Director) "You can only collect for repairs that were done in the first year from the date of the declaration. And working with HUD we've determined the date of our declaration was May 20th."

That means homeowners who have repaired their flood damaged home, or rebuilt on the same location, will qualify for a CDBG payment of up to ten thousand dollars, provided they paid for the work and materials by May of 2012. Hemphill says the focus of CDBG funds continues to be low-to-moderate income residents, so the plan put together by the city calls for spending 51% of the five million dollars on people in that income bracket. But the other 49% will be available to anyone who can demonstrate that they've rebuilt.

(Cindy Hemphill, Minot City Finance Director) "This is for people that really just did what they could for themselves without getting other assistance other than perhaps the SBA loan, the Bank of North Dakota loan, or the FEMA individual assistance."

The five million dollar pool means at least 500 homeowners will be eligible for the maximum ten thousand dollar payment if the program is approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

(Cindy Hemphill, Minot City Finance Director) "Very confident that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will approve that portion of the action plan because they're the ones that told us about the reimbursement."

Jim Olson, KX News.

The new CDBG application approved by the city council today must be submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by September 3rd.

The agency then has up to 45 days to approve it.

After that, you'll be hearing how you can find out if you qualify and how to apply.

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