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Flood relief grant applications to start in Bloomington

Aftermath of flooding in Bloomington Normal.jpg
Charlie Schlenker
Assistance is available for damage caused by the late June flooding in Bloomington.
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The City of Bloomington is about to open the spigot on a $544,000 grant program that can help people with flood damages.

Starting Tuesday, Oct. 12, residents can apply for money to fix flood and sewage damage through the Illinois Housing Development Authority Single Family Rehabilitation Program. It does have to be an owner-occupied home to qualify.

Melissa Hon, Bloomington economic and community development director, said people should check it out even if they think they might not meet the requirements.

"I think if anybody is needing assistance, they should definitely contact us. And if they do not qualify for this program, they might qualify for a different program we may have," said Hon.

One of those programs, she said, is money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that offers rehabilitation loans using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money passed through the city. Other possibilities include programs through other agencies the city can connect homeowners with, said Hon.

More than 500 homeowners registered damage with the city from the late June flooding and sewer backups. The program is pitched to the structural integrity of the home, so a building with foundation damage caused by the flood clearly qualifies. But Hon said sewage damage also fits the criteria.

"Our first thing we would address are the health and safety hazards in the home. Those would be the things we would want to look at and address first. It can also be used to repair or replace a roof to mitigate damage," she said.

Purposes such as windows, doors, porch replacement, heating, plumbing, and cooling also qualify.

Hon said the income limit is at or under 80% of the area median income. For instance, a family of four could make $74,550 and still be eligible. Other eligibility criteria can be found here.

It is a forgivable loan of up to $45,000. The owner must remain in the home for five years to earn cancellation of the debt. A promissory note is filed on the property, said Hon, and that will be released after five years, or be pro rated for payment should the owner sell and move before the end of the term.

Hon said the city is not sure how big demand for the money will, though she hopes getting the word out and social media will reach residents. If the money is exhausted, the city council could choose to replenish them from city coffers. Hon said staff will keep the council updated.

People can apply for the grants in person at the government hub in downtown or online, starting Oct. 12.

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