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VICE PRESIDENT SAYS HUD WILL WAIVE MATCHING FUND REQUIREMENT FOR DISASTER AID TO SAVE CALIFORNIA UP TO $21 MILLION
RIO NIDO, CA - Vice President Al Gore today announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will waive a requirement that California communities hit by severe storms provide matching funds for a portion of HUD disaster assistance, saving the communities up to $21 million. He also announced that HUD will make available $263.5 million in aid months ahead of schedule to help Californians recover from the weather disaster.
"Our most immediate priority is to do everything we possibly can to help California's families in these difficult days of disaster - to help them stay safe today, and rebuild their homes and lives tomorrow," Vice President Gore said, while visiting Rio Nido, CA. "The people of California have shown remarkable courage since the storms hit, and we are committed to doing our share."
President Clinton has declared a major disaster in 31 of California's 58 counties, making special federal assistance available.
The $263.5 million was scheduled to go to California and individual communities in July for community development programs. HUD is giving communities flexibility to immediately receive the $263.5 million from two programs - the HOME Investments Partnerships program and the Community Development Block Grant program -- for disaster recovery if they request the funds. The assistance can be used to: restore, rebuild and replace homes and businesses; repair and rebuild public buildings and facilities, such as water and sewer facilities damaged in storms; and to pay for increased costs of providing public services.
Normally, HUD requires localities to provide matching funds amounting to 25 percent of assistance they receive under the HOME program, which funds rehabilitation and construction of affordable housing. To make it easier for communities to use HOME funds to repair and rebuild housing damaged by storms, HUD will allow communities in the disaster area to receive HOME assistance without putting up any of the $21 million in matching funds that would normally be required.
"At a time when people across California are struggling to cope with the terrible destruction caused by severe storms, this assistance will help speed recovery efforts," Cuomo said. "HUD is committed to doing all we can to help families hit hard by this disaster. We know special programs can't erase the pain and suffering families have experienced, but they can play an essential role in rebuilding strong, vibrant communities."
Senator Dianne Feinstein said: "With the El Nino storms continuing to batter California's coast, the move by Vice President Gore and Secretary Cuomo to free up millions of dollars in HUD funds to help the storm's victims could not come at a more appropriate time. I thank them for their decisive action."
Senator Barbara Boxer said: "I recently met with California storm victims and disaster workers and know how critical the need is for housing assistance. These funds from HUD will aid many families in California by helping to restore and rebuild homes and businesses damaged by the storms."
The HUD funds will supplement aid from other federal agencies.
The Vice President said the $263.5 million in accelerated HUD assistance will be available for distribution in these amounts to the State of California and to communities in the following counties:
Counties declared disaster areas that are not on the list receive HUD assistance through the State of California, rather than directly from HUD. These counties, which are eligible for accelerated HUD funding if the state requests the funds early, are: Amadar, Calaveras, Colusa, Glenn, Humbuldt, Lake, Mendocino, San Benito, Tehama, Yola and Yuba.
The City and County of Sacramento, which are also part of the disaster area, have already received their annual funding under the CDBG and HOME programs.
In addition, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of HUD, is issuing a memorandum to FHA lenders placing an immediate six-month moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages, to prevent people hit hard by severe weather from losing their homes. HUD will also make available the FHA Section 203(h) mortgage insurance program for disaster victims. This program provides 100 percent financing, with no downpayment, for individuals or families whose homes were destroyed or substantially damaged in storms. FHA will also ease other mortgage insurance program requirements.
Also, public housing authorities may reprogram Comprehensive Grant Program or other modernization program funds to address damage to public housing property caused by the disaster. HUD will expedite requests for reprogramming from smaller public housing authorities, which receive Comprehensive Improvement Assistance Program Funds. For disaster recovery costs not covered by insurance or other federal assistance, public housing authorities may contact the local HUD public housing office to request funds from the Reserve for Emergencies and Disasters.
Similarly, 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 California who cannot make their mortgage payments.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009