The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

City Hall has firmed up what it expects to seek for some 1,300 flood-disaster buyouts: $148 million in CDBG funds to go with an expected $27 million in FEMA money

In City Hall, Floods on July 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

The Iowa Department of Economic Development is finalizing plans for what it intends to do with the state’s latest disaster-related infusion — $517 million — of federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

In its initial draft, the state agency proposed using $245 million of the CDBG pot to buy out flood-damaged properties in the state.

For now, the $245-million figure is a good working one for the city of Cedar Rapids, which has firmed up what part of the pot it intends to request to help the city buy out about 1,150 flood-damaged properties, reports Jennifer Pratt, the city’s development coordinator.

Pratt says the city will seek a total of $148 million in CDBG for buyouts. Of that total, $66 million will be used to purchase 554 flood-damaged properties in what is expected to be the construction zone needed to build the city’s proposed new flood-protection system. Another $82 million will buy out an estimated 600 additional properties that are defined as “beyond reasonable repair.”

Most of a group of another 192 properties, which are heavily damaged and closest to the Cedar River, will be purchased using $27 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to make way for a “greenway” along the river between the water and a new levee.

The city also is seeking funds from other parts of the $517-million CDBG pot, which will be designated for business recovery, infrastructure repair and housing rehabilitation.

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  1. How does the city intend to document that it’s complying with the requirement that at least 50% of the funds it expends are on activities that meet the National Objective of primarily benefiting people of low to moderate income? Below is some information regarding this matter. This is the source of the CDBG funds that the city keeps referring to in it’s statements.

    STATE OF IOWA ACTION PLAN FOR DISASTER RECOVERY (#2)

    Utilizing Supplemental CDBG Disaster Recovery Funding
    from the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and
    Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009

    http://www.iowalifechanging.com/community/downloads/Disaster_Recovery_Action_Plan_2_%20Draft.pdf

    4. National Objective
    All activities must meet one of the three national objectives set out in the Housing and Community Development Act
    (address slum and blight, urgent need, or primarily benefit LMI persons). At least 50% of the Supplemental Funding will
    be used for activities that meet the National Objective of primarily benefiting persons of low- and moderate-income.

  2. Mike – You’re correct. CR did receive some waivers from HUD however. eg. we are at 90% of average median income to qualify, and I’m not entirely sure, but the 50% might have been waived, and moved upward also. Having said this, both Jumpstart housing and rental housing has income and rental restrictions attached. They are qualified for the low to moderate income requirements. One hopes enough is left over for those above the 90% income threshold.

    Business jumpstart had a five year lein attached, and the real question is infrastructure.

    The $517M is statewide, and CR’s share is only estimated at this point. Not all of CR’s share will be used for housing. The response letter from IDED has suggested flexibility to include businesses, and surprisingly increased the amount that could potentially go for public infrastructure.

    IDED has sent a questionaire (basically a survey) to all areas in the State to help clarify the needs more accuartely.

    This is over simplified. The real question (and for once not the fault of either the State or City) is why after all the national diasters that we have had, are we still using what is basically a housing program to fund diaster bailouts?
    To complicate some things further, the CDBG money is Federal, but there are also several State programs either currently being used, or getting ready to be used.

    I have been extremely critical of the City, but one needs to be fair and note that the maze of funding is extremely complex. I’m grateful that my loss didn’t involve my residence. I just can’t imagine what these folks are going through.

  3. Good post Mike, Maybe the Gazette will ask for the info… lets hope so. I would think this would fall under the Freedom of Information Act??? Not that it matters with the trouble one news organzation his having obtaining “Freedom of Information” from the City. I beleive this has been going on for over a year now? And is trying to be suppressed before the Nov. election, in my opinion.

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