City to help property owners with FEMA buyout program

The City of Biloxi is embarking on a program that will help relocate residents whose homes have a history of flooding.

The City Council on Tuesday authorized Mayor A.J. Holloway to enter a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that involves buying private homes that have experienced repetitive flooding. The city also will assist eligible property owners in preparing and submitting the necessary applications for the voluntary program.

Under the program, those homes eligible must have had flooding inside their home and must have had at least two claims of $1,000 or more in the past 10 years.

Representatives of the federal and state emergency management administrations have told the city they could provide about $1.5 million to help acquire eligible properties. FEMA would pay 75 percent of the cost of purchasing properties, including demolition of structures, and the city would use Community Development Block Grant funds to provide 80 percent of the remaining cost.

“This is a good program that offers troubled property owners a viable option,” Mayor A.J. Holloway told a meeting of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning. “We don’t have as big a challenge as some of our neighboring cities, but we do have a few cases where either FEMA or insurance companies have had repeated claims in the tens of thousands of dollars on individual properties.

“This costs all taxpayers money and it probably drives up insurance rates for all of us. This is an issue that has been festering for decades in some cases, and now we have an opportunity to make a difference.”

In August, the city sent certified letters to repetitive loss property owners and others known to have a history of flooding. As a result, 35 of the 60 property owner notified attended an informational meeting, and more than a dozen said they were interested in the program.

The purchase price of the property would be based on current appraisals, and acquired properties would be cleared and remain open or green space.

For more information on the program, contact Michele Moore at 435-6314.