HUD Vows to Help Homeowners Rebuild

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson met with Governor Bob Riley and Atmore Mayor Howard Sell last week to tour hurricane damage in Atmore and surrounding areas. Representatives of the Red Cross and local residents joined them.

"Hurricane Ivan may have ravaged this community, but he did not destroy its spirit. HUD's commitment to Atmore is strong, and I am confident that when all is said and done, this community will be even stronger than it was before the storm," said HUD Secretary Jackson.

"All Alabamians are certainly appreciative of the response we've gotten from our federal partners. President Bush, Secretary Jackson and FEMA have done a great job in helping Alabamians recover. The state continues working closely with federal and local officials to make sure all available aid gets where it is needed as quickly as possible," said Governor Riley.

Secretary Jackson announced that HUD is allocating $500,000 for debris removal in affected areas, because streets and yards have to be cleared before repair and reconstruction can proceed. The money will go directly to the State of Alabama so that state officials can allocate it to the communities that need it the most.

Jackson also noted that HUD has made nearly $10 million available in emergency funds for elderly multi-family housing properties that have sustained hurricane damage. The grants will fund up to $500,000 in repairs per project. HUD will also:

  • Grant Immediate Foreclosure Relief - HUD will grant a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-insured homes
  • Make Available Single-Family Home Mortgage Insurance - HUD's Section 203(h) program enables the FHA to insure mortgages of disaster victims who have lost their homes and are in the process of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers are eligible for 100 percent financing
  • Make Available Programs for Damaged or Destroyed Properties - HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables homebuyers and homeowners who have lost their homes to finance both the purchase and/or refinancing of a house and the cost of its rehabilitation through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home. This program encourages lenders to make mortgages available to borrowers who would not otherwise qualify for conventional loans on affordable terms and to residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods
  • Provide Temporary Housing and Shelter - HUD is working with FEMA to identify vacant multi-family housing, public housing units and HUD-owned homes that can be used as temporary housing for those forced from their homes
  • Reprogram and Accelerate Federal Block Grants - HUD will permit communities to redistribute Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME funds for disaster recovery efforts
  • Provide Section 108 Loan Guarantees - HUD will permit state and local governments participating in the CDBG program to obtain federally guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development and repair of public infrastructure; HUD also plans to provide funding to public housing authorities to rehabilitate damaged properties after insurance proceeds have been exhausted.


  • If your home was recently damaged in this year's hurricanes, it is important that the rebuilding process be done properly to insure your damaged home can be built to withstand future storms. Choosing the right contractor who uses the right building materials and who pays attention to construction details is key to rebuilding your home. Choosing a renovation or rehabilitation contractor is always a difficult process.
  • The best source of information is from ones you trust. Did you learn of the contractor from friends or acquaintances? Have they had a good experience with the contractor?
  • Has the contractor been in the community a long time?
  • Is the contractor willing to give you number of recent references, not just one or two?
  • Ask if the contractor will rebuild all elements to the latest hurricane requirements in the building code When working with the contractor here is some technical issue to consider. These recommendations come from the PATH research.
  • Reduce dangerous uplift through the use of hurricane straps and clips. In hurricane-prone areas, use hurricane ties or clips to connect the roof to the wall system, which helps keep the roof on the home. Line up bracing and truss tie-down points, and anchor each level to the level below. Use light-gauge steel straps to anchor the first story to the foundation. Over the years, hurricane ties had a 92% success rate.
  • Wall bracing: Make sure that contractor in rebuilding walls uses a rated bracing material such as oriented strand board or plywood.
  • Construction practices with durability in mind: Material durability is key to future disaster resistance. Buy and install materials that will last. Also, attention to small details - lapping wall top plates at intersections with interior walls and attaching sheathing to a common stud in corner construction - can make all the difference, according to full-scale shear wall testing done by the NAHB Research Center.
  • Proper nailing schedule: Size, type and placement are all factors. Inadequate nailing in older building codes was implicated in the widespread roof sheathing damage in Hurricane Andrew. When inspecting roof-sheathing nails, attention to a gable end truss is especially important.
  • Ring-shank nails: To secure sheathing panels in hurricane-prone areas with basic wind speed of 110 mph or greater, ring-shank nails are necessary for their higher withdrawal capacity.
  • Protection from wind-borne debris: Reduce forces on the structure and minimize water and wind-related damages to the interior by protecting windows with approved shutters or properly fastened wood structural panels in coastal homes that might experience a hurricane.
  • Proper garage doors. If your garage door needs replacement, make your that your new door is reinforced to better resist hurricane force winds. Garage door failure opens homes to the full force of hurricanes with often-catastrophic damage to the home.
  • Assure quality and energy efficiency In the haste to rebuild and restore, avoid building practices and materials result in homes and businesses that are not properly weatherized and energy efficient. By properly flashing and sealing buildings, you will minimize future water damage and mold growth. By selecting and properly installing energy-efficient HVAC equipment, lighting and appliances, and by weatherizing the buildings, you will maximize resources and minimize your future energy bills.