SE Iowa leaders angry over state's federal disaster funding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SE Iowa leaders angry over state's federal disaster funding

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- Linn County Supervisors and members of the Cedar Rapids City Council joined Iowa's congressional delegation and governor Friday in expressing anger and frustration about Iowa's allocation from the Social Security Services Block Grant funds (SSBG). 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) used a formula based on population, Iowa received only $11 million of the $600 million that was announced this week for mental health, elder and child care as well as other health and human services in areas impacted by natural disasters. 

Linn County Supervisors and members of the Cedar Rapids City Council agree with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin: "There is simply no relationship between the total population of the state and the needs of disaster victims," Harkin said in a letter to HHS and the OMB.

"This (using this formula) caused an absurd distribution of funds where some states less affected by natural disasters than Iowa received over 25 times the funding that Iowa received per family hurt by the disasters," said harkin.

"Iowa's SSBG allocation and the formula it was based on are simply unacceptable," Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran and Lu Barron, Linn County Board of Supervisor's Chairperson, said Friday.

In  news release, city and county leaders said "Let us be clear-Iowa's congressional delegation went to the mat for Iowans. They told our story of devastation clearly and concisely. They convinced their fellow congressional delegates to visit our state to meet flood-impacted residents and to see the devastation themselves. As a result, in a bipartisan effort, Congress allocated funding to assist us through SSBG."

"But the Bush administration's HHS officials applied a population-based formula to devastated areas which will deny human services to Iowans who have rarely asked for help in the past, but who now need it desperately," Halloran and Barron continued.

"In Linn County alone, we have well over $25 million in health and human services needs," Barron added.

"The flood seriously impacted over 6,000 homeowners and businesses in this community. We call upon the Bush administration to acknowledge the need for funding of mental health services as well as the programs our other human service organizations provide for these home and business owners who have been devastated by the flood damage. HHS can and should do this by changing the formula used for the recent SSBG allocation and delivering the relief that Iowans need and deserve, now."

County and City Officials are preparing for a scheduled trip to Washington D.C. next week to meet with HUD officials about that department's housing allocation to the state. "This especially emphasizes the need for this trip now," Halloran said. "We're now working with our outstanding congressional delegation and their staffs to make visits to Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget officials."

Barron and Halloran added that Linn County Supervisors and the Cedar Rapids City Council look forward to working with President-Elect Obama's administration to ensure that the county and city receive their fair share of disaster funding. They will be inviting representatives of the new administration to the area to learn first-hand about the impact of the flood of 2008 on the people of Cedar Rapids and Linn County.

Online Producer:  JJ Murray

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