Iowa part of pilot program expanding federal assistance in disaster areas

DES MOINES — Iowa is part of a pilot program that expands the eligibility for loans and grants in federal disaster areas.

Iowa Rural Development Director Theresa Greenfield says the pilot here involves the seven counties declared a federal disaster area following flooding this summer on the Mississippi River. “We lowered that age limit for applicants down to 18 years old, it still does apply to our very low income Iowans,” she says. “It still does apply to our rural areas which have a population of 20,000 and under.”

The counties are Allamakee, Clayton, Dubuque, Jackson, Scott, Des Moines and Lee. Greenfield says they also are raising the cap on the amount of money. “Normally our grant is about $10,000 and we increased the lifetime grant max to $40,675 , and so our neighbors can use those resources to either refinance some of the costs they’ve already maybe incurred, we can reimburse them to some of these costs that may be incurred, or work with them on repairs that they maybe need to do and haven’t been able to do,” Greenfield says.

Greenfield says the repairs must be made to remove health and safety hazards caused by the flooding and the natural disaster to be eligible for the funding. “It is an opportunity to really see if our single family home loan repair program can be beneficial for rural Americans,” she says. “I know it’s going to help a whole lot of Iowans, that’s for sure. And you know, if folks are interested in this program, they just need to reach out to their local USDA office.”

Greenfield encourages residents of the seven counties to check out the program to see if they qualify. “The program right now is scheduled to continue through July of 2025. So folks do have some time, but I do think that there may be limited resources,” Greenfield says, “and so certainly apply now and let us help you determine if you’re eligible.”

The flooding hit the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa back in July.