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Gov. Shumlin announces plan for homeowners ineligible for FEMA buyouts

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced March 12 that the state will use CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to cover 75 percent of the cost to towns of buying out homes that have been found to be ineligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Additionally, the Stratton Foundation will make up to $80,000 available for the four homes in Jamaica, Vt., that were lost to Tropical Storm Irene. The state has been working with homeowners on a case-by-case basis to find an alternative to FEMA funding, with the assistance of the Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission. The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund also welcomes applications from the Jamaica homeowners for any remaining unmet needs.

"These Vermonters have been in limbo for too long and the news that their buyouts would not be approved by FEMA was another setback," said Gov. Shumlin.  "We are making these funds available to allow the Town of Jamaica to buy out the properties and the homeowners to move forward with their lives."

"The Stratton Foundation is thrilled the state has found the funds that, when added to the Foundation's contribution, will help our four families in Jamaica regain their financial footing," said Stratton Foundation Chairman Sky Foulkes. "It has been a long haul for these folks and we hope they can continue on their path to recovery in the wake of their challenges. Thanks to the generosity of our community and the Foundation's commitment to those affected by Irene, we are happy to see the close of our mission is in sight," he added.

The CDBG-DR funds come from a $21. 6 million allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development. The funding results from a provision Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch championed in last year's federal budget bill.

Determined to help those who lost the most to Irene and reduce the risk of future damages, the state committed CDBG-DR funds to cover the 25 percent local match for buyouts through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. While the vast majority of home buyouts have been approved by FEMA, a few have been determined to be ineligible. The full cost of these buyouts exceeds the CDBG-DR funding set aside for this purpose. The Department will still cover 25 percent of approved buyouts submitted in Rounds 1 through 3 and March 12 committed to provide towns and homeowners with ineligible properties with 75 percent of the project costs.   Towns and homeowners can agree to the buyouts at less than 100 percent of the cost that would have been covered by FEMA.

"We are pleased to offer this additional assistance to towns and homeowners," said Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lawrence Miller. "The Agency is also grateful for the work and partnership of Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission in making the CDBG-DR funds available for purchasing destroyed properties, removing homes from harm's way, and allowing communities and individuals move on with their recovery."