"Flood Homes with Hope" Urges Northlanders to Apply for Flood Relief

By KBJR News 1

September 19, 2012 Updated Sep 19, 2012 at 6:57 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - "Flood Homes with Hope" is a collection of people, organizations, and resources that are dedicating themselves to guiding Northlanders through every available means of flood relief

But it comes with a deadline.

While Small Business Administration low–interest loans, forgivable Quickstart loans, and the Long Term Flood Relief Funds are available, people need to go through the step–by–step process of denials by the October 15th deadline before any help can be given.

Flood Relief Committee members say the 1st crucial step toward individual flood recovery is obtaining a denied homeowners insurance claim. The 2nd—and arguably most crucial step—is applying for an SBA low–interest loan, with 1.9% interest and $40,000 toward personal property damages.

"As of last Tuesday, only 282 people that were affected by the flood have applied for SBA loans, and of that, less than 50% have been accepted," said Tom Paull, Moose Lake Flood Manager.

...which is OK, says the committee, because that opens the door for individuals to apply for the state's $12 million in Quickstart loans, which cover up to $30,000 in property damage at no interest or payments. As long as individuals own the property for the next 10 years, the loans are forgiven.

"The Quickstart loans are available for homeowners, and also owners of rental properties. So, it's not just a home ownership program. It's for all types of residential structures," said Cliff Knettel, of One Roof Community Housing, which is distributing the Quickstart loans.

Over 150 Northlanders have already begun the Quickstart application process, but even if that results in another denial, it opens yet another door to the unmet needs category, like the $417,000 in the Long Term Flood Relief Fund.

"The total resources that are available, when you think of the Ordean Foundation donation and other pots of money that are available, is over $1 million. So, we definitely are making progress," said Paula Reed, President of the Duluth Area United Way.

If it still sounds too confusing, that's what the case managers are for, who work with individuals one–on–one to sort through the paperwork and emotional wear and tear.

"[My case worker] was always kind, she was very helpful, she helped me fill out the lines that I hadn't been able to fill out when I went down to [the SBA offices at] the DECC, for example," said Rev. Charlotte Frantz, who has received help from case workers and is in the process of closing on her SBA loan.

The "Flood Homes with Hope" committee hopes to have 1,020 SBA applications turned in by the October 15th deadline.

The committee admits that the low turn out for SBA loans, so far, could be a result of confusion and frustration.

Committee members said that it can be very disheartening to receive a string of "no's" with every turned in application, but it has to be made clear that each "no" only guarantees relief in some form eventually.








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