(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Council received a eruption recovery update from administration officials during one of its committee meetings in Hilo on Tuesday, and the topic of potential buyouts for properties in the Puna area was discussed.
The council’s Committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development, chaired by Puna councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, has been receiving regular updates from the administration in the wake of the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea on the lower East Rift Zone. Over 716 structures were destroyed, including about 200 primary residences, the county says.
Douglas Le, the Hawaiʻi County Disaster Recovery Officer, talked about a voluntary HUD housing buyout program:
“It is a voluntary program. We have to work through the program design and also eligibility criteria as part of the standing up with the project, and HUD is advising us on past experience – both lessons learned and good practices from other jurisdictions that have also set up buyout programs. The basis of the buyout value would be a pre disaster market rate value. It’s complicated, in terms of how buyout programs work with federal dollars. There’s things like duplication of benefits. Folks factoring in not just the market value, pre- disaster cost for the for purchasing the home, but also factoring in insurance payouts that someone might have received. FEMA individual assistance, things like that. All these procedures will be kind of mapped out in the design of the program.”
Over $83 million from HUD Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, or CDBG-DR, is expected. The County still awaits the Federal Register notice that will kick start the acquisition process of the funds.