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Cooper seeks even more funds for post-Florence recovery

By AMANDA MORRISMay 14, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal housing authorities awarded more than $336 million to North Carolina to address damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure brought on by Hurricane Florence, but the governor said Tuesday that wasn’t enough.

Gov. Roy Cooper said the funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development falls short of the state’s needs and he called on Congress to pass additional disaster relief legislation to cover damages from the hurricane last September. In a news release, the Democratic governor said “far more is needed to help North Carolinians rebuild their lives and communities.”

Florence caused $22 billion in damages in North Carolina and was directly responsible for 15 deaths.

Some of those hardest hit were low-income residents who now face a lack of affordable housing in their area, according to Samuel Gunter of the North Carolina Housing Coalition.

“Because of the way we’ve developed housing, communities with lower incomes are often situated in flood plains,” Gunter said. “Their housing went away; there’s not really a rental stock to accommodate them.”

Gunter said federal relief money can take years to move through the federal bureaucracy before it’s actually used, but in the meantime, many communities are under threat of being displaced.

The governor’s office announced Monday that eight hard-hit communities in the eastern part of the state will get $2.7 million from the 2019 state Rural Housing Recovery Fund to help address affordable housing shortages.

When asked about affordable housing in the town of St. Pauls, which is set to receive $299,700 from the grant, town clerk Debra McNeill said “there really is none available.”

The grant money awarded to St. Pauls, a small community south of Fayetteville, will be used toward construction of an affordable housing apartment complex.

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