MDA: Elevation Grant Checks Going Out This Week

JACKSON (WLOX) -- Almost 3,000 coast homeowners who've been waiting for grant money to elevate their homes could be in luck this week. Officials with the Mississippi Development Authority say the checks are in the mail.

"MDA has already sent the first batch of checks this week and we're telephoning other homeowners to schedule closing on their applications," Jon Mabry, Chief Operating Office at MDA's Disaster Recovery Division said.

The Elevation Grant Program is a construction initiative where the federal government  requires that each site complies with all applicable environmental and building code mandates.

"Therefore this is much more complex to implement than Phase I and Phase II of the Homeowner Assistance Program, which dealt only with sending checks to compensate for Katrina storm surge losses," Mabry continued.

"The Elevation Grant Program goes a step further in providing each approved applicant up to $30,000 to help the homeowners whose site geography demands they now elevate above new, post Katrina federal flood regulations, better preparing for another hurricane.  To do that, the federal government requires some very extensive environmental evaluations of each site involving everything from lead based paint assessments to determining whether each site may have historic and archeological significance."

MDA has composed a broad checklist to simplify the environmental review process and speed the application.

"This is making it easier on the applicant, keeping each homeowner from having to engage with all these agencies on their own, which would have been much more trying and time consuming," Mabry continued.  "In addition, we're prioritizing applications in which owners are elevating and constructing on their original home's footprint, without dramatic site changes which trigger new environmental assessments."

MDA expects checks to be released in a continuous fashion with payments and closing packages being mailed weekly.