Deadline to apply for flood aid extended to Jan. 4People who suffered flood damage to their homes during the June flood will have a few more weeks to seek aid.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
People who suffered flood damage to their homes during the June flood will have a few more weeks to seek aid. The deadline to apply for help through Minnesota’s Quick Start loan program had been Monday but that now has been delayed until Jan. 4.
The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency reports that, as of last week, only 234 households of the 2,000 homes significantly damaged by the June flood in Northeastern Minnesota were slated to receive state or federal financial assistance.
Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said homeowners who were affected by flood damage and who are still living in homes that need repairs should know there’s still time to apply for assistance.
“I think it’s an awareness thing,” he said. “As hard as we’ve tried, it’s tough to break through the din of everything else going on. First, people were just responding to the crisis and they weren’t really looking outwards. Then, that quickly moved into the school year starting and then the holidays. People have a lot of things going on.”
Many people are still in the pipeline to receive aid, according to Drew Digby, a long-term recovery coordinator for the Northland region.
“We have nine case managers now working 60-hour weeks and assisting with more than 500 cases,” Digby said. “They’re working hard to get people as much help as they can.”
Digby said people need to apply for federal aid through the Small Business Administration before they can qualify for Minnesota Housing’s Quick Start Loan Program. He said 770 people had filed applications with the SBA, and that agency appears on pace to distribute about $8 million in aid to flood victims in the region.
“There are a lot of hoops to jump through,” Digby said.
The flood recovery bill passed by the Legislature in August dedicated $12.2 million for the program. Homeowners who qualify can receive a no-interest loan of up to $40,000 per household. Those loans are forgivable if a homeowner stays in the residence 10 years or more.
If a borrower moves and/or sells a dwelling before then, the loan will be called but no interest will be paid, according to Digby.
Tonja Orr, assistant commissioner for housing policy at the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, estimated that 100 to 200 people who have not sought assistance might still be eligible for it.
“The problem is that people aren’t asking for help,” Reinert said. “Others may believe they can’t afford to take on a loan or simply didn’t know that help is available. I’m hopeful this deadline extension will give community organizations assisting with flood recovery more time to reach out to the community and let folks know that plenty of assistance is still available.”
Duluth residents should contact One Roof Community Housing at (218) 727-5372, ext. 200, for more information on eligibility and directions on how to apply before Jan. 4.