Financial Relief Coming Soon for Florence-Affected Homeowners

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Dozens of homes that were raised after Hurricane Florence, like this one in Stacy, had to ride out Dorian without proper foundations.

More than a year after Hurricane Florence the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is preparing to disburse more than $542 million in disaster recovery funds to the state of North Carolina.

The state will pass these funds along to the state’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR), which will release funds in the form of grants to private individuals through the agency’s ReBuild NC program. Grants may cover rebuilding of homes, raising of homes, rental assistance and other home-recovery programs.

Eligible counties include: Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Robeson and areas of Scotland, Cumberland, Bladen and Pamlico.

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So, how does it work? Browse the topics below to learn who can apply for grants; what can those grants be used for; and how the process works.

When Will This Money Be Available?

If all timelines are respected, funding will be released to the state by May.

HUD released a Federal Register Notice Jan. 21 that outlines where funds are being sent and the requirements states and local governments must meet to receive funds.

Right now, the NCORR is finalizing a draft action plan for the funding, which is expected to be complete before the end of February according to the Governor’s Office.

Once the plan is published, the public will have 30 days to comment on it.

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After public comment closes, HUD has 45 days to review the plan. Once approved, funds can be released to the state, which will then begin taking grant applications.

How Can the State Use the Money?

All spending must be related to Hurricane Florence. Hurricane funding is not included.

The state must use the funds to “primarily consider and address its unmet housing recovery needs,” but the state can ask to use funds for “unmet economic revitalization and infrastructure needs” if housing needs have been met.

“Unmet housing needs” covers areas like buyback programs, rental assistance, raising of homes, demolitions and rebuilds according to HUD.

At least 80 percent of the funds – $434,115,000 – must be used in the ten counties plus three zip codes identified by HUD. This includes all of Carteret County. The state may use up to 20 percent of the $542 million for disaster needs in other areas that received a presidential disaster declaration.

Who Can Apply?

Any homeowner whose primary residence received major damage from Hurricane Florence. FEMA defines “major damage” as at least $8,000 worth of damage attributable to the storm in question or one foot of flooding in the home’s first level. See below for more.

What Are The Requirements?

We don’t know the exact requirements yet, but we can get a good idea.

Bridget Munger of the Department of Health and Human Services told the Beacon that Florence funds will be granted in a similar, if not the same, manner as funds released for Hurricane Matthew damage.

Homeowners will likely need to: allow access to the damaged property, provide photos of damage and proof that the address was their primary residence.

The full requirements for Matthew funds are still posted on ReBuild NC’s website, and should give homeowners a good idea of what to expect once Florence funds are ready. Take a look at the Matthew eligibility requirements here.

What About Dorian Damage?

HUD’s statement on late 2019 disasters across the country reads:

“When additional data becomes available for other disasters occurring in 2019, the remaining $272,072,000 from Public Law 116-20 will be allocated for those disasters in a subsequent notice.”