FEMA approves funding for Biloxi buyout program

The federal government has announced that it will fund 75 percent of a $936,000 Biloxi program to help relocate residents whose homes have a history of flooding.

Mayor A.J. Holloway was notified today that the Federal Emergency Management Administration has approved a Biloxi plan where FEMA would pay $702,000 in a program that involves purchase eight properties in Biloxi, as well as provide matching funds for demolition of structures on the properties. The city will use a quater-million in CDBG funds for its portion of the program.

Biloxi, which has been working for two years with Mississippi and federal emergency management agencies on the program, will begin notifying property owners this week. Three of the homes are on Jefferson Davis Avenue, two are on Fairview Drive, and the remaining three are on Sunset Boulevard, Querens Avenue and Holley Street. The prices, which were based on appraisals, range from $51,268 to $200,723. Once acquired, the properties will be cleared and maintained as green space.

Biloxi had originally requested that 14 properties be included in the voluntary program. Under the program, those homes eligible must have had significant flood damage inside their home on at least two occasions in the past 10 years.

Representatives of the federal and state emergency management administrations had told the city they could provide about $1.5 million to help acquire eligible properties.

“This is a good program that offers troubled property owners a viable option,” Mayor Holloway said. “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.”