The deadline to apply for some flood relief loans in northeast Minnesota has been extended another month.
Flood victims can now apply to the state of Minnesota for Quick Start loans through Feb. 28. The no-interest loans are completely forgivable if homeowners reside in their homes for 10 years. The Legislature set aside $12 million in funding for Quick Start loans last August. So far, Minnesota Housing Finance Commissioner Mary Tingerthal says the agency has approved 139 loans worth $2.2 million.
"We're honestly quite surprised that there has not been more demand for the dollars," Tingerthal said.
Some homeowners took buyouts rather than fixing their homes. Others fixed damage on their own," Tingerthal said. But she says caseworkers have found more flood victims still in need of help. Last summer's floods caused more than $100 million in damage to infrastructure and to nearly 2,000 homes.
There remain about 300 homeowners who need help, said Drew Digby, long-term recovery manager in Carlton County.
"Because if we don't help people stay in their houses, there could be huge economic turmoil," Digby said. "Imagine 300 people walk away from their homes and leave them abandoned: that's going to be a huge economic hit that we have got to find a way to avoid."
Federal, state and private sources so far have disbursed more than $10 million in grants and loans to flood victims," Digby said.