Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. yesterday signed into law emergency legislation to provide housing relief for Maryland victims of Hurricane Isabel.
The legislation establishes a new emergency housing program, Hurricane Isabel Rehabilitation and Renovation Program, providing loan assistance to Marylanders to rebuild or renovate homes damaged by the storm.
Governor Ehrlich also announced the establishment of a Cabinet SWAT Team, led by Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Victor L. Hoskins. This team will coordinate and deliver financial assistance for rebuilding and renovating homes, including any required social services.
“This emergency legislation will help Marylanders affected by Isabel rebuild their homes and their lives,” said Governor Ehrlich. “Many families have suffered great property loss, displacement, and financial burden, with more than 200 families still living in temporary housing. They need more assistance from the state and today they’re getting it.”
The SWAT Team’s goal is to process all applications for assistance within 30 days of receipt from the applicant. Other agencies participating are the Departments of Planning, Aging, Human Resources, and the Governor’s Offices of Homeland Security and Individuals with Disabilities. The SWAT Team is expected to begin visiting recovering communities this week.
The loan assistance program, effective through May 31, 2005, will fill the gap not covered by insurance or other financial resources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), or the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Eligible applicants must already be seeking financial assistance to rebuild or renovate a home damaged by Hurricane Isabel. Governor Ehrlich has allocated $7.5 million in state and federal housing resources to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to administer the new housing program.
Hoskins said that just prior to the passing of the bill, his housing team began interviewing Hurricane Isabel victims in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil and Dorchester counties.”Our department’s goal, with the assistance of the Cabinet SWAT team, is to turn-around the loan applications within 30 days of receipt. We are absolutely committed to getting these Marylanders the assistance they need to get their lives back on track,” Hoskins added.
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