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CUOMO ANNOUNCES HUD DISASTER ASSISTANCE FOR VERMONT
WASHINGTON – Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced a series of actions by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to speed recovery efforts in Vermont from two disasters -- the severe ice storm and freezing rain that hit the state earlier this month, and heavy rains and flooding that struck the state in July.
Cuomo said HUD will authorize Vermont to receive accelerated assistance from the Department to respond to the January storm, and will provide $1.2 million in 1997 disaster relief funds in response to the July rains and flooding.
The new actions responding to the January storm include authorization for the immediate availability, upon the grantee’s request, of $12.9 million in HUD assistance that would normally have gone to the State of Vermont this coming July for a broad range of community development programs. The funds come from the state’s annual allocation of $8.4 million from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and from $3.5 million in HOME Investment Partnership Program assistance to small communities. The City of Burlington is authorized to receive $1 million of the assistance directly from HUD, while the remaining $11.9 million is available to the State government for distribution to other communities.
The January storm knocked out power to thousands of residents and businesses, forced businesses to close and caused property damage in several counties throughout the state.
President Clinton declared a disaster for Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Orange, and Windsor counties January 15, making the assistance possible.
JULY RAINS AND FLOODING
Cuomo said Vermont will receive $1.2 million in HUD special Disaster Recovery Initiative grants, which were authorized as special funding for disasters that occurred in Fiscal 1997 only, to help rebuild from devastation caused by a presidentially declared disaster that struck the state in July. On July 25, the President declared a major disaster in the state due to excessive rainfall, high winds and flooding.
The summer storm left many homes, businesses, roads and bridges flooded and damaged. Five counties in Vermont were declared eligible for federal assistance in July, including: Caledonia, Franklin, Lamoille, Orleans and Washington counties.
"HUD is committed to doing all it can to help the families in Vermont whose lives have been interrupted by weather disasters," Cuomo said. "Special programs can’t erase the pain and suffering these families have experienced, but they can play an essential role in rebuilding strong, vibrant communities."
Congressman Bernie Sanders joined Cuomo in making the announcements in a news conference beamed to Vermont via TV satellite. Cuomo was in Washington and Sanders was in Vermont.
Sanders said: "My staff has been working with HUD since August of 1997, shortly after the summer floods ravaged several communities in the northern portion of the state, to secure these funds. This emergency assistance will be an important shot in the arm to communities who are still hurting financially as a result of the summer floods. I am very pleased that the federal government is able to provide this much-needed funding, which will assist hard hit communities in rebuilding and moving forward with their lives. The additional HUD funds help ease the financial burden in flood-damaged communities throughout northern Vermont."
Senator Patrick Leahy said: "I commend Secretary Cuomo for his timely response and his helping hand. These federal funds are important to rebuilding Vermont communities that have been ravaged in the last six months by the twin tragedies of ice storms and flooding."
Senator James Jeffords said: "Having seen the affected areas first hand last week, I understand the importance of getting assistance to those in need as fast as possible. These funds will help numerous communities overcome damage caused by recent storms so that the people can return to business as usual."
The HUD assistance can be used to: repair homes and businesses; repair and rebuild public buildings and facilities, such as water and sewer facilities; and to pay for clearance and demolition of structures damaged by the storm, not covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In addition, the Federal Housing Administration, the government-owned mortgage insurer that is a part of HUD, is making allowances to mitigate the hardships faced by individuals residing in presidentially declared disaster areas of Vermont. The FHA is issuing a moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages, to prevent people hit hard by the January ice storm from losing their homes.
HUD will also make available the FHA Section 203(h) mortgage insurance program for disaster victims -- 100 percent financing for individuals or families whose homes were destroyed or substantially damaged in the storm. FHA will also ease other mortgage insurance program requirements. A copy of the FHA Mortgage Letter can be accessed on the web at: www.hud.gov.
In addition, the Government National Mortgage Association, another entity within HUD, is encouraging all single-family, multifamily, and manufactured housing security issuers to provide as much forbearance as possible to homeowners in Vermont who cannot make their mortgage payments. To obtain more information on the conditions of assistance, issuers should contact their Ginnie Mae account representative. In addition, a copy of the All Participants memorandum can be accessed on Ginnie Mae’s website: www.GinnieMae.gov.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009