South Carolina storm damage assistance application process ending soon

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The application period to apply for housing assistance from the state for damage caused by Hurricane Matthew may have closed on Nov. 10, but those who did apply and are eligible still have until Dec. 29 to complete the process and turn in all supporting documents.

The South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office will have a complete list of eligible clients in early 2018, according to a news release from the agency. About 1,350 homes affected by the 2016 storm are expected to be reached in addition to the about 2,100 homes damaged by the 2015 flood that are eligible for assistance, many of which are now in the construction process.

Priorities

Eligibility is based on income, age dependency and disability, and the highest priority is given to households with evidence of storm damage, homeowners who are 65 years or older, individuals with disabilities or households with children five years old or younger.

"SCDRO focuses on the repair or replacement of homes for citizens that do not have the resources to repair or rebuild their homes," the agency says.

Households that received funds from FEMA or an insurance company must report it to SCDRO at the time of application. While that assistance may not prevent that household from being served, any duplication of benefits must be accounted for - it can affect the type of services provided.

Limitations

"SCDRO oversees the federal funds allocated for the storms, but it does not grant money to the applicant or county and municipal organizations," the agency says. "The program offers housing solutions, construction and goods and services that provide clients with a safe, sanitary and secure home."

Based on damage assessments, homes are repaired or, in some cases, replaced. Applicants can reject the solution offered, but doing so will end their program participation.

"Citizens must do their part to remain eligible for the program. Unpaid electric bills, water bills and property taxes prevent SCDRO and its contractors from obtaining needed permits and slow the progress of repairs," according to the release.

Construction

Chosen applicants will be notified by mail, in which the repairs and details of the project moving forward will be explained. Legal documents must be signed to give the construction team permission to begin the work.

SCDRO obtains all the required county permits and employs licensed contractors to work on homes. The program hires as many local sub-contractors as possible to keep the work in South Carolina.

They will repair disaster-related damage but will not address work requests that are not in the scope of the project.

All work must meet housing quality standards that bring a home back to a safe, sanitary and secure condition.

Before construction can begin, belongings must be moved out of the home, and the residents must find an alternative place to stay.

"While contractors work under strict timelines, construction projects take time," the agency says. "Contractors often find additional work that must be completed before the documented repairs can be made. These repairs require additional time and labor, which can delay project completion."

New homes and repairs are covered by a one-year warranty.

For more information, visit www.scdro.sc.gov.