by Pam Zubeck
The application for this statewide competitive grant opportunity included 26 properties totaling approximately $13.3 million (according to the El Paso County Assessor’s database using 2015 Market Value). If the City is awarded funding, the program could provide partial assistance to eligible property owners who have been impacted by recent landslides that are occurring as a result of the unprecedented rain events in 2015.
A total of 79 property owners requested participation in the program by the March 4, 2016 deadline. The properties were categorized into groups based on type/amount of damage.
· 26 properties had significant structural damage due to landslide activity and were included in the application.
· 29 properties were located in the landslide susceptible zones, but because they had no damage, they were not included in the application.
· 24 properties had damage from expansive soils, land creep or subsidence, not landslides. These properties were not included in the application, because they are not eligible for the program.
Because the application includes properties totaling approximately $13.3 million, and the HMGP has approximately $3 million in statewide funding for the 2016 program, any grant funding that may be awarded is not anticipated to cover all submitted properties. The City of Colorado Springs will continue to identify and assist in applications for alternate relief resources for affected property owners, as appropriate.
Property owners have been notified in writing by the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management whether or not their property qualified under the program guidelines for inclusion in the City’s FEMA grant application.
The City anticipates receiving word from the state later this year regarding the application. The state may approve, deny, or request additional documentation regarding the application from the City and affected property owners.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program:
This statewide competitive grant program is designed to provide funds for projects that reduce the risk to individuals and property resulting from natural disasters. It does not serve to provide recovery assistance, but instead to mitigate future damage. Property acquisition and structural demolition or relocation projects are mitigation measures that can be provided through the HMGP program.
The acquisition of private real property is undertaken on a voluntary basis by both the selling property owner and the eligible acquiring entity (in this case, the City of Colorado Springs). The grant program covers 75 percent of eligible project costs, which may include:
- Pre-disaster appraisal value of the property and home.
- Demolition costs to remove all structures and utilities on the property.
- Closing costs because the City will become the owner of the land.
- Asbestos removal and lead paint abatement, if present.
The costs associated with demolition, closing, and other costs (e.g., asbestos and lead paint abatement) will be subtracted from the 75 percent project cost. The remaining amount will be provided to the applicant. This means that a selected property owner will likely not receive the full 75 percent of the pre-disaster property value.
The City will notify property owners of the share they will be eligible to receive if and when a grant is awarded. Property owners will then have the opportunity to accept or decline the buy-out. If the buy-out is declined, the property will not receive further consideration under the HMGP program.
There is no guarantee the City of Colorado Springs will be awarded grant funding under this program, the amount of the funding that may be awarded, nor how any awarded funding may be distributed among impacted homeowners. The entire application and buyout process from start to finish may take between two and three years. Property owners may elect to withdraw from consideration during the application process.
Heavy rains that plagued Colorado Springs during the spring and summer of 2015 saturated slopes and caused significant damage to public infrastructure and prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a Major Disaster Declaration on July 16, 2015 (“Colorado Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Flooding, Landslides, and Mudslides (DR-4229)”). The heavy rains also triggered several landslides in very isolated areas on the City’s west side that were later reported to the City. As part of the presidential disaster declaration, HMGP funding is available statewide for hazard mitigation projects. For more information about recent landslide activity visit: ColoradoSprings.gov/landslideinfo.
For information about the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program visit http://www.dhsem.state.co.us/emergency-management/grant-programs/hazard-mitigation-assistance/hmgp