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Helpful Information

Acquisition of Property After a Flood Event

Acquisition of Property After a Flood Event

If your home is flooded as a result of Hurricane Florence or has flooded repeatedly in the past and you are hoping for a buyout, there is some important information you should know. 
 
After a presidentially declared disaster, local officials may decide to request money from the state to purchase properties that have either flooded or been determined substantially damaged. 
 
The decision to offer buyouts is made by the state using money that FEMA allocates through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to reduce future disaster losses.  Seventy-five percent of any buyout cost is paid by FEMA and the rest is paid by the state and/or local government. 
 
It is not a simple process and requires agreement by your local government officials, the state and FEMA.  It is important to note that many flooded properties don’t qualify for a buyout, funding is limited and requests for funding may exceed available resources.  
 
Buyouts are voluntary and no one is required to sell their property.  It is a lengthy process and many factors are taken into consideration before a decision is rendered.  What are the factors? 

  • After a disaster, the state sets priorities for how it will spend its FEMA mitigation funds and this may or may not include the acquisition of properties.
  • Local officials will make the decision whether to request funds from the state to acquire flooded properties and owners interested in a buyout will express their interest via their local emergency manager or floodplain administrator.
  • The state will review the requests and will determine the communities that will be considered for buyouts.
  • Communities interested in buyouts will submit letters to the state and the state will review the proposals.
  • FEMA will review all proposals and ensure that they follow regulation and are environmentally sound and cost-effective. 

How do I know if my property is eligible? 
 
Local officials will make the determination whether your home will be included in the request for buyout. The purpose of a buyout is to mitigate against future flood losses.  To be eligible, properties usually are in Special Flood Hazard Areas and are primary residences. 
 
My home is determined eligible, so what is next? 
 
If a home is eligible for acquisition, the homeowner is offered a pre-disaster fair-market value for the property as determined by a certified appraiser.  There is an appeals process available for homeowners who disagree with the appraisal value of the property.  
 
Before the homeowner can receive funds from the sale, funds received and not used to repair the home from FEMA’s Individual Assistance or flood insurance will be deducted.   Homeowners are strongly encouraged to keep all receipts for repairs they have made to ensure accuracy of deductions. 
 
If the homeowner still owes a mortgage on the home, the balance due will be deducted and paid to the lienholder. After required payment(s) have been made, the structure is then demolished and the land is deeded to the local government with its use restricted to open space. The land must remain open in perpetuity. 
 
Projects that are not approved because of limited funding are kept on file in the event that funding becomes available in the future. 
 
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Reasons Why You Might Have Been Found Ineligible by FEMA

Reasons Why You Might Have Been Found Ineligible by FEMA

If you received a letter from FEMA that says you’re ineligible for housing assistance, that’s not the last word. You might just need to provide some more information to FEMA.

Keep in mind:

  •  FEMA cannot pay for damage covered by insurance or duplicate benefits from another source.
  • FEMA grants are meant for costs to return your home to a safe and sanitary living space or functional condition. Damage to non-essential space or property is not eligible under FEMA programs. If you have questions about the type of damage eligible under FEMA programs, you can call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY).
  •  The disaster-related damage must have occurred at your primary residence.
  •  Your disaster-damaged property must be located in a county designated for federal individual assistance for Hurricane Florence and flooding between Sept. 7 and Sept. 29:
    •  Anson, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Union, Wayne and Wilson. 

 Here are some reasons for ineligibility in your determination letter, with recommended actions:

You were insured

  •  Contact FEMA if your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your disaster-related needs or if you have exhausted the Additional Living Expenses provided by the insurance company.
  •  You may think your insurance covers the damage but your insurance company denies your claim. You must provide documentation that identifies the denial or benefits of your insurance settlement before FEMA will consider your assistance eligibility.

You reported no home damage when you registered with FEMA 

  •  FEMA housing assistance typically only covers costs to return your home to a safe and sanitary living space or functional condition. Damage to non-essential space, landscaping, or spoiled food is usually not covered by FEMA grants. Contact FEMA if the status of your home damage is different from what you reported originally.

Insufficient damage/Home is safe to occupy

  •  The damage caused by the current disaster has not made your home unsafe to live in. Your home is still safe and sanitary or functional. If you disagree with FEMA’s decision, you can appeal in writing. Get third-party documentation to support your appeal (such as a bid for repairs or contractor estimates) that states your home is uninhabitable due to the disaster.
  •  If you live in an apartment building and the owner requires you to leave so repairs can be made to the building, you should register or update your status with FEMA. You may be eligible for assistance.

No initial rental assistance

  •  You indicated to the inspector that you are not willing to move while your damaged home was being repaired. This made you ineligible for FEMA temporary rental assistance. However, you have since found further damage to your home, which may require you to move.
  •  Since your housing needs have changed, contact FEMA to update your housing status and explain why you had (or will have) to relocate.
  • You also may be eligible for repair or replacement grants for your home or personal property.

Proof of occupancy

  •  When FEMA is unable to verify occupancy of your primary residence, you may provide FEMA with documents, such as utility bills, a bank or credit card statement, phone bill, pay stubs, a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or voter registration card.

FEMA could not verify your identity

  •  FEMA must be able to verify your identity with a valid Social Security number. By verifying identity, FEMA prevents fraud and ensures you receive the disaster assistance for which you are eligible.
  •  To verify identity, you may provide FEMA with documents, such as your Social Security card if accompanied by federal or state-issued identification, a U.S. passport, military identification or certain documentation from the Social Security Administration.

You can appeal FEMA’s decision

You must file your appeal in writing to FEMA. In a signed and dated letter, you must explain the reason(s) for your appeal. Your appeal letter should also include:

  •  Your full name  
  •  Disaster number  
  •  Address of the pre-disaster primary residence   
  •  Your current phone number and address
  •  Your FEMA registration number on all documents 

 
If someone other than you or a co-applicant is writing your letter, that person must sign the appeal letter, and you must provide FEMA with a signed statement authorizing that person to act on your behalf.

Your letter must be postmarked within 60 days of the date on your letter from FEMA regarding your eligibility. Appeal letters and supporting documents may be submitted to FEMA by fax or mail, in person at a disaster recovery center, or online if you have a FEMA online account. To set up a FEMA online account, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, click on “Check Your Application and Log In” and follow the directions.

By mail: FEMA, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

By fax: 800-827-8112, Attention: FEMA 
 
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