Government Grants for House Lifting in Flood Zones

Lifting homes is a common mitigation practice to prevent flood damage by raising homes to basic or higher flood altitudes. Commonly found on hurricane-prone East coasts and bay areas, home lifts are frequently used for coastal homes and riverside homes. The federal government relies on insurance programs to protect people from flood damage, so grants for flood mitigation and remediation are rare. The government generally only extends any existing home upgrade grants to communities participating in its National Flood Insurance Program.

National Flood Insurance Program
Congress established the NFIP in 1968 to provide affordable flood insurance for homeowners. The Federal Emergency Management Agency conducts flood analysis and flood maps, while the NFIP publishes and manages flood insurance. While any landlord can buy flood insurance, the federal government requires people with homes in high-risk flood zones to do so. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is the agency that enforces the purchase of compulsory flood insurance through banks and mortgage companies.

Flood Mitigation Assistance
Flood mitigation actions include lifting a water heater onto cement blocks and they cost little, but home upgrades themselves are expensive. FEMA provides assistance through the Flood Relief Assistance Program and the Severe Recurrent Loss Program, though individuals cannot apply in person. States, tribal governments, and communities participating in the NFIP can apply for NFIP, and SRLP and FEMA grants can also provide grants to sub-applicants. Flood mitigation applicants must reside in an NFIP participating community and must use the funds only to mitigate the primary home that is residing in the same community.

Flood Mitigation Assistance Program
The National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 created FEMA’s Flood Relief Assistance Program to reduce or eliminate NFIP claims. FEMA gives FMAP funds to states and communities participating in the NFIP to minimize long-term flood risk for buildings covered by NFIP, mobile homes, and other structures. FMAP project grants provide funding for mitigation measures such as structural upgrades or home lifts and structural purchases or relocations. The amount of FMAP subsidies also varies annually. FEMA also released FMAP app documentation and guidelines that update online annually.

Severe repetitive loss program
“Severe repetitive loss” refers to residential property covered by the NFIP that requires at least four NFIP claim payments over $5,000 each. The SRL is also involved in at least two claims payments in which the building’s cumulative flood compensation amount exceeds the market value of the structure. In addition, at least two of those flood claims must take place over a 10-year period. FEMA provides SRL grants to states, territories, and federally recognized tribal governments on a federal cost-sharing basis and the recipient of subsidies is 75%.

SRL Federal Cost Sharing
The federal SRL cost-share can be up to 90 percent for projects in states with FEMA-approved mitigation plans that include mitigation strategies for severely damaged properties. The amount of federal SRL grants varies annually As well as other grant programs, FEMA provides annual updated applications and guidance on its website. States also follow FEMA guidelines and regulations for grant applications and the amount of SRL program funding.