By Janaki Jane, Colorado Spirit
Headlines announce “Colorado gets another $199 million to spend on flood recovery,” and a lot of us get confused. What does this mean? Where does it come from, what is the money for, and, many might ask, how can I get some?
The truth is, it is confusing. The money comes in waves, and it is distributed in ways that are confusing even to those distributing it. Here is a quick overview, made as simple as the program seems to allow.
Where does it come from and how much has Colorado gotten? Colorado has been given three rounds of the CDBG-DR money so far. Overall, the state has received over $320 million since the first $62.8 million award was made in December. The money comes from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (the initials of that give us CDBG-DR), from money passed by Congress.
What is the money for? The money needs to be used in the general areas of housing, economic development, infrastructure, and prevention of further damage. At least fifty percent must be used for low and moderate-income households and areas. (In Boulder County, low income for a family of four is $63,900.) The money also cannot be used for anything that has already received money from any one of the “alphabet soup” of federal agencies that many flood-impacted Colorado residents have become familiar with this year, such as FEMA, the SBA, etc. Eighty percent of the money awarded to Colorado must go to Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties, which had the most damage from the floods.
How is the money distributed? The money is given to the state. Then, depending on what it’s to be used for, it goes through different agencies to reach flood-impacted residents, or the state, counties, or agencies use it in a way that benefits the entire area. For instance, the state just awarded $500,000 to tourism projects, because they recognized that without tourist dollars, some towns in Colorado will no longer be towns.
How do residents apply? It depends. Businesses, farmers and ranchers go through the State’s Division of Local Affairs (DOLA) website, (http://dola.colorado.gov/cdbg-dr/), or call for housing, the money became available from Boulder County last week. Last week’s article in the Recorder has all of the relevant information about the Housing grants. The website for that is www.BoulderCountyFloodGrants.org.
Is more money coming? Each time they get funds, the state and counties have to go through a new process of creating an Action Plan and asking for public input on that plan. Only the first round of three has been through that process. That is the money that has been given out so far, and that is being given out currently. It is not known how many more rounds of funds will be awarded to Colorado for flood recovery.
The Boulder County Flood website has a good page of FAQs about the CDBG-DR funds: http://www.bouldercounty.org/flood/faq/pages/rebuildingfaq.aspx.
Colorado Spirit Teams in Boulder County are a program of Mental Health Partners.