Iowa Representatives Backing Flood Amendment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Representatives Backing Flood Amendment

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -- Iowa's Congressmen are stepping up their support to an amendment that would give communities hit by disaster more access and use of Community Development Block Grant funds.

All five of Iowa's representatives sent a joint letter to John Olver, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD).

The amendment, which was introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and sponsored by Senator Charles Grassley and Senator Tom Harkin, would allow states and communities to use CDBG disaster funding as a local match, shore or contribution toward federal projects.

Congressman Dave Loebsack says, "The ailing economy coupled with the floods of last summer have left many Iowans overwhelmed at the loss of so many basics within their communities.  From homes to schools to libraries to sewage facilities and public buildings, Iowans have many projects to tackle on the road to recovery. Allowing CDBG disaster relief funds to be used as the local cost share would lift an incredible burden off the shoulders of many communities in Iowa that are struggling to take care of their community members with too few funds and too many projects."

Congressman bruce Braley added, "The floods of 2008 had a devastating effect across eastern Iowa.  Access to CDBG funds is crucial for progress on the road to recovery. It's important that we work together to help victims continue to rebuild their homes and communities."

Iowa has received nearly $800 million in CDBG disaster relief funds and this amendment will specifically alter the use of those funds.

Below is the full text of the letter.

The Honorable John W. Olver
Chairman, Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
2358-A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Olver,

As you begin the conference process on the Fiscal Year 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill, we write to respectfully urge your support for the Senate provision allowing states or localities who have received CDBG disaster relief funding, through the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2009, PL 110-329, to use that funding as a local match, share, or contribution toward other federal projects.  This provision was adopted through an amendment offered by Senator Landrieu during Senate floor debate.

We greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with you and your staff to secure CDBG disaster relief funding in the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008, PL 110-252, and in PL 110-329 for Midwestern flood affected states.  This work has provided nearly $800 million in CDBG funds to address the State of Iowa's disaster recovery needs.  Unfortunately, under current law the State of Iowa is unable to use CDBG funding from PL 110-329, nearly $642 million, as a local match for other much needed projects.

One community in Iowa, the City of Cedar Rapids, has 623 FEMA Public Assistance projects, for a total FEMA commitment of nearly $500 million, which will require around $50 million in local matching funds.  The city is also required to pay a local match for an expected U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood protection project.  Should the Senate provision be included in the final Conference Report, one possible local match source could be $144 million in CDBG funded voluntary property acquisitions.

The entire City of Cedar Rapids had a budget of only $380 million in FY09.  Allowing CDBG disaster recovery funds to be used as the local cost share for these projects would be of significant benefit to the city's long-term recovery efforts.  Additionally, there are many other communities which could benefit from this provision statewide as the floods of 2008 were the worst natural disaster in the history of the state, and left 85 of 99 total counties Presidentially-declared disaster areas.

Governor Culver, of the State of Iowa, is supportive of this amendment and has the ability to structure a program through which communities could access CDBG disaster recovery funds to use as a local cost share by amending the Disaster Recovery Plan for PL 110-329 which was previously approved by HUD.  We again respectfully urge your consideration of this issue during conference and thank you for your time.  Please do not hesitate to contact our offices if additional information is needed.

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