by Pam Zubeck
The City of Colorado Springs has been awarded grant funding totaling $5.9 million to acquire qualifying properties in southwest Colorado Springs impacted by landslide activity that began in 2015. Twenty-seven homeowners qualified to be included in the application for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
“The City is pleased to have successfully secured grant funding to provide financial relief to those residents who have been struggling since May 2015 with significant damage to their homes from landslide activity. This grant funding will allow the city to purchase many homes that were significantly damaged or destroyed. In turn, and by FEMA rules, the land will be converted to open space to mitigate future damage,” said Bret Waters, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management.
The City will begin the property acquisition process using a prioritized list of impacted homes until funding is exhausted. While the grant amount is not enough to purchase all 27 homes on the list, the City will continue to seek additional funding until all options are exhausted.
Several steps must take place prior to acquisition of any homes and the City of Colorado Springs will provide additional information and timeline of activities to applicants as the process moves forward.
No City of Colorado Springs General Fund budget money will be used for the acquisition of the homes. FEMA will provide a maximum reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the total eligible project cost. The project cost includes items such as title search and appraisal fees, property acquisition and cost of demolition. The property owner is responsible for the remaining 25 percent of the project cost. The City will apply in-kind services and staff time towards the required 25 percent grant match, which will lessen the cost to the property owners.
Heavy rains that plagued Colorado Springs during spring and summer 2015 saturated slopes and caused significant damage to public infrastructure and prompted 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 isolated areas on the city’s west side.
The City of Colorado Springs applied in February 2016 for a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, a statewide competitive grant that could provide 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. City officials have been working with property owners, the State of Colorado and FEMA throughout the application process.
The HMGP program is a statewide program authorized under the Major Disaster Declaration for “Colorado Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Flooding, Landslides, and Mudslides (DR-4229)” declared on July 16, 2015. This statewide competitive grant program is designed to provide funds for projects that reduce the risk to individuals and property from natural disasters. It does not serve to provide recovery assistance, but instead to mitigate future damage. Funds are provided to the City as reimbursement for eligible documented costs.
For more information visit ColoradoSprings.gov/landslideinfo or the Colorado DHSEM website https://www.colorado.gov/MARS.