Northeastern Minnesota homeowners now have until Jan. 31 to apply for forgivable, interest-free loans to return their dwellings to pre-disaster condition following the June storm that deluged the area with 7 inches of flooding rains. Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal announced the extension Friday at a news conference in Carlton.
"In the last couple weeks, we've had about 300 new applications that are now in the queue for caseworkers," she said in a telephone interview. "We heard some compelling stories coming from Pine County and expect to see the biggest influx of applications coming from that geographical area."
The Quick Start Disaster Recovery Program provides last-resort help when private insurance or federal aid aren't enough to get homes back to shape. Despite outreach efforts including phone calls, direct mail and community meetings, several eligible households hadn't applied for the loans by the original December deadline, according to Minnesota Housing spokeswoman Megan Ryan.
To secure loans from $1,000 to $40,000 per house from the program, she said, residents first must have been denied Small Business Administration assistance, or their needs had to exceed available federal help. The loans will be forgiven in 10 years as long as the home is the borrower's primary residence or has been continually owned by the landlord for those 10 years.
Ryan urges eligible homeowners to contact Minnesota Housing administrators at 1-800-657-3647 to help them apply or explore other resources.
Six months ago, historic rains swamped northeastern Minnesota, washing out roads and devastating things ranging from Duluth's zoo to the iconic swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park.
Curt Brown • 612-673-4767