State expected to get $21 million in new flood funds
By David Taube
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | September 06,2012
MONTPELIER — Residents, businesses and municipalities with unmet needs from last year’s spring flooding and Tropical Storm Irene should soon have another avenue of relief open to them.
The federal government, which in January earmarked nearly $21.7 million for Vermont’s remaining needs from spring floods and Irene, has conditionally approved that funding for the Green Mountain State, according to a letter state officials received Tuesday.
The state plans to release details today about how people can apply for awards, which will generally be distributed through a competitive selection process. Officials say some of the new funding will be awarded in direct aid.
The state Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s website will have the details.
“We were always confident it would be approved. It was just a waiting game,” said Josh Hanford, director of the Vermont Community Development Program.
Congress previously had earmarked $400 million for disaster relief across the nation, and the money was assigned to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency broke that money up into various amounts among eight states that President Barack Obama had declared disaster areas due to anything from tornadoes to tropical storms.
To secure the money, though, each state had to submit an action plan, which Vermont did earlier this summer.
The grants fall under HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which assists all 50 states annually. Vermont is still receiving around $6 million this year as part of the regular block grant program; the nearly $21.7 million in new funding announced Tuesday is in addition to that.
As part of the conditional approval of the new funding, state staffers are giving even further details to HUD about some of the competition-based programs here, Hanford said.
The new money will support projects involved with housing, infrastructure repair and economic development. The money, for example, may be used for buying out homes in floodplains; rent subsidies and mortgage payment assistance; business marketing; and public counseling services.
The new money for unmet recovery needs addresses gaps left by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and private insurance.
A regional HUD administrator from Boston, Robert Shumeyko, sent the letter announcing the conditional approval for Vermont.