Most of the 6 billion dollars in disaster aid Congress approved last fall remains to be distributed. Iowa has received about $125-million in grants while Cedar Rapids has gotten just under $40-million. Cedar Rapids city manager Jim Prosser says the money isn’t coming fast enough.
"It’s just wrong for the federal government to be sitting on their hands and sitting on these funds," Prosser says. "These funds have been approved by Congress and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be given out to us. It’s causing our people, our residents, our businesses it’s causing them more damage and more pain."
While the funds were approved about six months ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has only released about two-billion out of the 6 billion. HUD is in charge of giving out the money in the form of Community Development Block Grants, which help with buyouts and rebuilding homes and city buildings. HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan Friday says the agency is still analyzing all of last year’s disasters.
Sullivan Friday says, "We are keenly aware that we’ve got to get this money to where it’s needed most, but I will tell you that the state of Iowa has millions of dollars available to it, so, the only question left to answer is how much more of the money will go to Iowa." He doesn’t know when HUD will release the remaining funds.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has a different take on the situation, indicating it’s the governmental leaders back in Iowa who need to get their paperwork finished. Grassley says, "There’s a lot of money laying there and most of it is just waiting for the cities and counties and state governments to make use of it."
Sullivan Friday, at HUD, says with more than 70 presidentially-declared disasters last year, it’s a lengthy process to release the funds.