LUMBERTON — A housing recovery program targeting eligible Robeson County property owners who suffered at least $5,000 in damage because of Hurricane Matthew officially kicks off today.
As part of the North Carolina Finance Agency’s Essential Single Family Rehabilitation /Disaster Recovery Program, property owners who suffered $5,000 damage can receive up to a maximum of $40,000 to assist in the rehabilitation of their property, said Adrian Lowery, who is administering the program for the Lumber River Council of Governments. There is currently $150,000 available to assist county residents who meet program requirements and another $150,000 available for the city of Lumberton, which administers its own zoning and planning regulations, Lowery said.
More funding is expected for the program.
Lowery said that evaluation of the damaged homes belonging to property owners who have already filed applications to participate in the program begins today. Sixty-six applications from people across the county have been received.
“These are applications that have been completed and turned in for review for eligibility,” said Lowery. “These are not applications that have been approved.”
According to Lowery, the process begins with the evaluation of an applicant’s income and an on-site initial review of damaged property by a rehabilitation specialist who specializes in programs offered by the North Carolina Finance Agency.
“With the help of the North Carolina Finance Agency he (rehabilitation specialist) will make the determination of whether a property meets damage requirements and what is the estimated cost for repairs,” Lowery said. “If all program requirements are met, we still have to get state approval. After the state approves the project we write up a final damage report and the project is put out for bid.”
Robeson County is one of the first five counties to receive money for the program because there was so much property damage locally. There eventually will be a $12 million pool shared by 49 counties from which more money for Robeson County property owners can be obtained, said Lowery.
According to Lowery, an owner must live on the property in order to qualify for the assistance. Eligibility is based on income and the number of family members. Renters are not eligible, nor are mobile homes unless they have been modified to exist as permanent structures.
Money a property owner receives through the program must be used for rehabilitation only. If the owner has been displaced he must be planning to return and live on the site. The funds will be allocated to property owners on a first-come, first-served basis, said Lowery.
Lowery on Wednesday urged those county property owners who feel they might qualify for the program to apply.
“Keep applying,” he said. “There is no deadline.”
Those interested in participating in the program should call the Lumber River Council of Governments at 910-618-5533 and ask for Housing.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.