More than 100 people converged at Milford City Hall Monday to learn about $30 million in new federal funding allocated to the state of Connecticut to help its residents still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.
“Ten months of frustration,” Milford Mayor Ben Blake said at the start of the forum. “I understand the tensions.”
With the longest coastline in Connecticut, Milford had the most homes damaged and the most people displaced in the state due to Sandy, Blake said.
And applying for relief
funds in “the alphabet soup that is the federal government assistance process”
has proved very difficult for many, he said.
“Nobody knows more than the Milford community the damage Hurricane Sandy caused,” state Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne M. Klein said.
Some hope for Connecticut homeowners and businesses still rebuilding or displaced from the so-called “super storm” arrived in July when it was announced the state would be receiving $72 million in federal relief funds – 80 percent going to New Haven and Fairfield counties – to help pay for damages not covered by insurance, FEMA or other sources of funding.
The state Department of Housing has allocated $30 million of the $72 million toward the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation and Rebuilding Program, literature of which officials went over with residents at the informational session Monday.
Applications for the new program can currently be submitted online and public intake centers are in the process of being set up. There will be two in both New Haven and Fairfield counties, one in New London County and one in Middlesex County. The intake centers will be equipped with computers and consultants and be open for four months after launch.
Properties found to be eligible for funding under the program will receive a grant award ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. Homeowners who accept funding and then sell, transfer or vacate the property within five years are subject to repayment.
The first priority is to assist homeowners whose income is less than 80 percent of a town’s Area Median Income (AMI), which is based on Housing and Urban Development guidelines. For example, 80 percent of the AMI for a four-family household in Milford is $64,400.
The second priority is to help homeowners whose income falls in the 80 percent to 120 percent AMI range. And the third priority is to assist those households whose income is more than 120 percent AMI, which for a four-family in Milford is $109,680.
Half of the program’s $30 million in funding will go to the first-priority homeowners with less than 80 percent AMI.
What’s Covered, What’s Not
The home that an applicant is seeking relief funds for under this program must be a one- to four-unit property damaged by Hurricane Sandy and must be located in one of the four counties (New Haven, Fairfield, New London, Middlesex) or the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation designated as disaster areas.
The home must have been the primary residence at the time of Sandy. And there must be an unmet need for rehabilitation or repair work after “accounting for all federal, state, local and/or private sources of disaster-related assistance,” according to the literature.
Work that is eligible under the program includes:
- Structural repair or replacement of damaged property
- Cost-effective energy measures and improvements needed to meet HUD Section 8 Existing Housing Quality Standards
- Lead-based paint abatement, asbestos abatement, handicapped accessibility for special needs
- Mitigation assistance to elevate homes and/or reduce the risk for future disasters
Work that is not eligible includes:
- Second homes
- Non-residential buildings that are not attached to primary residence (pools, sheds, detached garages, fences, etc.)
- Personal property (vehicles, furniture, good, clothing, etc.)
- Satellite dishes and security systems
- Swing sets and playground equipment
- Sea walls, jetties and piers
Funding under the Owner-Occupied program will focus on repair, reconstruction and rebuilding.
While some mitigation measures will be considered, if the only work requested is elevation, the application will be denied, officials said. Funding for elevation-only requests is expected to be included in the next round of funding allocated by the state.
Reimbursement for work already completed is included under this program but not a top priority.
For more information or to get the application process rolling, visit www.ct.gov/doh or www.ct.recovers.gov.