State officials tell flood victims in Evans that more federal money coming

Greeley Tribune (CO), 2014-08-13


Aug. 13 --As state officials Tuesday announced how the next round of federal money for flood recovery will funnel into Weld County , questions and emotions ran high at a public meeting in Evans for some flood victims over where the last round of funding went.

After outlining how the next $199 million round of flood funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will break down across the state, officials said the $62.8 million round of HUD money announced last fall is finally in the process of being doled out, mostly to Weld , Boulder and Larimer counties.

A common misconception has been that the emergency money will go directly toward individual flood victims, but that is not the case, state officials said. Flood victims hoping for individual assistance must apply through the nonprofits or other organizations that are awarded their funding through the state.

For many individual property owners, that has translated to a burdensome, confusing process.

"Everything is still just standing in time, and the ball is not rolling," said Heather Hollingsworth , a flood victim in the southwest portion of unincorporated Weld County , during the public comment portion of the meeting. "Do I have to wait another year for this process to come to fruition?"

The HUD money is divvied into different programs that go toward local nonprofits, local governments and businesses. For example, money to help residents with rent and down payments goes to organizations such as housing authorities, while cities, school districts and counties are eligible for money to repair damaged roads, buildings and other property.

But after the money is awarded to different entities, some roadblocks remain. For example, the Greeley-Weld County Housing Authority has been selected to receive money from the first round of funding, but the organization must delay awarding money to flood victims for things like environmental compliance.

The meeting, which was attended by about 50 people, was to gather public comment before the state submits its allocation plan to HUD in early September. From there, the plan must be approved, and the state can then start accepting applications for the money, which is meant to address needs that weren't met by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Small Business Administration , said Molly Urbina , chief recovery officer for the state of Colorado .

This time around, the state has set aside specific allocations for Weld , Larimer and Boulder counties based on how severely they were affected, Urbina said.

Housing and infrastructure in Weld County should receive 14 percent, or $17.7 million , in this round of funding.

The money in this round also will be more geared toward projects that improve what was there before the flood, Urbina said.

For example, competitive applicants will show they will be better at weathering future hazards such as floods or wildfires, enhancing the local economy, coordinating with other public entities to get the most bang for their buck, leveraging projects for future gains or working to do less damage to the environment.

"We have an opportunity now to look at the broader perspective -- to say, 'How can we make this better?'" Urbina said.

A third round of HUD funding, at $58.2 million , was announced last week, but few details about the money are available until it goes through the proper channels, she said.

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