By Gregg Hennigan
IOWA CITY — The City Council agreed Monday night to go after money that would allow it to purchase flood-damaged homes that were ineligible for the federal buyout program.
The money would come from a new state-administered program that has $10 million in federal funds. More money may go into the program in the future, officials said.
The city will submit more than 80 homes in the Parkview Terrace neighborhood for consideration. Those homes are in the 500-year floodplain but not the 100-year boundary and therefore weren’t eligible for the federal buyouts that are beginning in Iowa City this week.
Officials admit that, given the magnitude of damage elsewhere in the state, especially in Cedar Rapids, it’s unlikely they’ll get near enough money for everyone who wants it. Also, Iowa City does not have any property that meets the first three priorities the state has set for the program.
Jeff Davidson, the city’s director of planning and community development. estimated the city would be able to buy several homes, with priority likely given to those nearest the 100-year floodplain.
“We’re trying to be realistic about this, but we also want to keep our options open,” he said.
Council members said they were committed to pursuing all opportunities to help flood victims.
“I’m all for opening it up,” council member Mike Wright said.
The program is voluntary, so no one would be required to sell their home. It’s unclear how many of the Parkview Terrace homeowners would be interested in the new buyout funds, but the city had to submit a list this week and included them all to be safe.
The Idyllwild neighborhood is not being included because, as with the federal buyout program, it is unlikely to be eligible. The 92 units there are considered one property because it is a condo association, and most of it sits outside the 100-year flood plain.
The city also will submit three vacant properties for the program, with the goal of preventing them from being developed in the future. Two are in the Peninsula neighborhood and another is off South Gilbert Street.