Governor Chet Culver is shifting about $40 million in state funds to create a "Jumpstart Iowa Housing and Business Initiative." Iowans with homes or businesses damaged in this past spring’s severe storms will be eligible for grants of up to a thousand dollars a month to cover mortgage payments.
A forgiveable loan program will help Iowa flood and storm victims make downpaymemts on new property. "Moving money out the door, addressing these immediate, unmet needs despite the challenges and frustrations that we’ve had with Washington in getting overdue federal money for things like housing and business assistance to our state," Culver says.
Culver’s office has released an analysis indicating state officials have secured up to a billion dollars in federal flood aid, much of which has yet to land in the hands of Iowans.
"We know that the $40 million is not going to be an adequate amount for all of the homeowners and the businesses that are affected," Culver says. "But we do know it will perhaps get us a couple of weeks until we get the next round of $85 million from HUD and then behind that is potentially another $150 million…that’s already been earmarked for Iowa that is at the Department of (Housing and Urban Development) that we expect to get by the end of October."
Culver is directing state officials to redraft the rules for programs designed to promote business development, renewable energy and cultural attractions in Iowa so the state money is available for this $40 million "bridge" program.
Culver says he’s not ready to call lawmakers back to Des Moines for a special legislation session to deal with flood-related issues, but the governor held open the possibility he might do so if convinced some action is necessary before legislators return in regular session in January.
Culver held a news conference at the statehouse today and lashed out at those who’ve criticized his disaster relief activities. "I want to be very clear. As Iowans meet the challenges of rebuilding, now is not the time for political cheapshots," Culver said, reading from a statement. "The election will be here soon enough and if we play politics with our statewide recovery, Iowans will suffer as a result."
State officials estimate the new grant and loan programs for flood victims could put money in Iowans’ hands within 10 days.
To hear all of what Culver had to say today, click on the audio link below.