Getting some payback
Valley homeowners who rebuilt after the 2011 flood can apply for reimbursement of some of those costs through a new program that opens for applications Monday.
The City of Minot is proposing to spend $5 million from Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds to provide the reimbursement for certain out-of-pocket costs. The federal government shutdown is delaying final approval of the program by the Department Housing and Urban Development, but city finance director Cindy Hemphill said the city wants to have the program in motion should that approval come as expected.
“We want to get started taking the applications because we feel we are going to have a lot of applicants, and there’s a lot of paperwork that goes along with it,” Hemphill said.
On Monday, the city will launch a website at (www.minotreimb.com), where residents can submit application information. The city encourages people to apply online. Computers are available at Minot Public Library for residents who lack Internet access. Residents who need personal assistance or have questions can visit the disaster recovery office at Arrowhead Shopping Center or call the program administrator, CDM Smith, at 837-5813.
Residents need only supply eligibility information at this time. To be eligible, the house must be located outside the flood plain and the flood protection project footprint. The house must have been the owner’s primary residence at the time of the flood, and the owner must still reside in the home. The house must have received at least $10,000 in damages. Funds are available for repairs made during the calendar year following the flood.
A full list of the program requirements and restrictions will be posted on the application website as well as the City of Minot website, in the public announcements section. Residents should review the Homeowner Reimbursement Program policy statement before beginning the application process.
The program applies only to homes in the Minot city limits because HUD restricts the Minot grant to areas within the city’s jurisdiction.
The application period will be open until Dec. 31. After that time, CDM Smith will be contacting homeowners to verify eligible expenses and other information.
Hemphill said the money cannot be spent on duplication of benefits. Residents will need to document other assistance received, including private insurance, money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency used in rebuilding, Small Business Administration loans, state housing loans, state sales tax rebates or assistance from the Minot Area Community Foundation.
The loans are considered aid that can’t be duplicated.
“The way HUD looks at it,” Hemphill said of the CDBG-DR grant, “is it’s to provide funding where there was a gap and there was no funding of any other type that was made available to that individual.”
She added that most people who received other assistance are likely to still qualify.
“Because they all have funding shortages. Nobody was able to get 100 percent of what they needed. They have had to take money out of their own pockets to get back into their homes,” she said.
Homeowners also will need to provide rebuilding receipts and proof of income such as a federal income-tax form, when contacted by the program administrator. The program will reimburse for any costs necessary and reasonable for a safe and sanitary dwelling.
Hemphill said reimbursement payments aren’t likely to be made until next February or March. The program has a $10,000 limit on reimbursement to a homeowner, but Hemphill said the actual amount will depend on the number of qualifying applicants.
The city already has received inquiries from about 200 homeowners since including the program in its action plan for CDBG-DR funds. Hemphill said the city might consider shifting additional money in CDBG-DR grant to the reimbursement program if necessary to more fully assist residents.
One of the restrictive factors that could limit who gets a check is HUD’s requirement that 51 percent of reimbursements go to low- to moderate-income homeowners. Moderate income is considered 80 percent of the median income in Ward County. That 80 percent is $36,300 for a single person, $41,500 for a couple, $46,700 for a three-person family and $51,850 for a four-person family. The income limit rises with increasing family size.
Hemphill said the amount of money available to people with incomes not considered low or moderate will be limited by the amount awarded to those who qualify as low- to moderate-income because of the 51 percent requirement. Getting enough low- to moderate-income individuals to apply is a concern, she said, because a number of these people already have been helped through the city’s home rehabilitation and reconstruction programs.