By Mike Colpitts
As anxieties rise with the floodwaters along the mighty Mississippi River and residents flee for higher ground, the U.S. government is gearing up for the largest disaster aid commitment it has ever made. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already dedicated funds to help disaster victims in eight states, including immediate foreclosure relief and funds for temporary housing.
Eight Alabama counties have been declared for disaster relief following the swarm of tornadoes that killed more than 240 victims and caused an estimated $5-billion in property damage in Alabama alone. More than 4,000 homes were destroyed in the series of twisters that moved through the state.
Homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following disasters in Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee will receive aid and help for housing from FEMA.
Financial assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by natural disasters.
“Families who may have been forced from their homes need to know that help is available to begin the rebuilding process,” said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Whether it’s foreclosure relief for FHA-insured families or helping these counties to recover, HUD stands ready to help in any way we can.” Victims of tornado and flooding damage along the Mississippi may apply for disaster aid through FEMA.
HUD’s community development block grant program provides state and local governments’ flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in funds to help disaster victims with immediate critical needs, including housing for temporary quarters. The FHA has also granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration insured home mortgages.
The federal government will also provide disaster victims who have lost their homes and are facing rebuilding or buying another home 100% mortgage financing, including closing costs through FHA approved lenders.
HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables homeowners who have lost their homes in a disaster to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing homes.