Hope to extend eligibility for flood money back

The City of Minot is requesting a federal waiver that would increase homeowner eligibility in a reimbursement program for flood-related expenses.

The city is waiting for a response from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to its request to increase the time frame for determining eligibility in a Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program. HUD allows homeowner reimbursement only for repair expenses incurred during the first year after the flood. The city would like to see the eligibility period extended to three years post-flood.

“The thing we are very aware of is that a lot of people didn’t take any action because they were waiting to see what the (flood protection project) footprint was going to be,” said Cindy Hemphill, Minot city finance director. Although it’s uncertain how the one-year time frame might be restricting applications, she said, the city wants to be proactive and stay in front of any potential issue.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., wrote HUD secretary Shaun Donovan on Thursday to support the city’s request to extend the eligibility period. He noted the city’s action on a flood project footprint didn’t come until 11 months after the flood, delaying the decision of many residents about whether to rebuild.

The original application period in the reimbursement program closed Dec. 31 with more than 1,000 applications received. The city will be reviewing them to assess eligibility, Hemphill said.

To be eligible, the house must be located in Minot but 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. The program has a $10,000 limit on reimbursement, although reimbursement will depend on funds available. HUD requires that 51 percent of funds go to low- to moderate-income recipients.

The city allocated $5 million from CDBG-DR funds to the program.