The manager of the state’s Rebuild Iowa office says the mortgage crunch is making it difficult for some homeowners to rebuild after last summer’s disasters. Emily Hajek testified Wednesday before the legislature’s new Rebuild Iowa committees.
Nearly 40,000 Iowans were displaced by last summer’s flooding and tornadoes. While many have secured loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state is trying to assist those who failed to qualify. But, Hajek says they’ve hit a snag.
"We do provide down payment assistance through our Jumpstart program, but there has been a big issue with people not being able to get mortgages and obviously if you can’t get a mortgage you don’t need down payment assistance," Hajek explained. She says her office is unsure how to proceed in those cases and hopes state lawmakers can help find a solution.
Hajek says another top priority is to find permanent housing for the roughly 500 Iowans living in trailers provided by FEMA. "They have 18 months to live in those trailers, which is the end of this year," Hajek said. "If any of you have seen or been in one of those FEMA trailers…I would definitely want to be out sooner than 18 months, so that is definitely a big goal of ours."
Hajek says there are also Iowans living temporarily in apartments or with family members who still need housing. She says providing more state funding will allow some people to avoid federal programs that require homeowners to jump through several additional hoops. The chairs of both the House and Senate committees vowed swift action on a state assistance package.