Jessica Brady of Harrison Twp. will be one of the first recipients of Federal Home Loan Bank grant money provided for tornado recovery. The bank along with local nonprofit partners announced Wednesday that $5 million in grants will be provided for homeowners to fix or acquire new homes as well as help former renters purchase homes. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

$5M in disaster grants lift tornado recovery efforts

A $5 million disaster reconstruction fund announced Wednesday is “a great start” toward piecing together the resources needed to help those without insurance or short on coverage rebuild from Memorial Day tornadoes, coalition members said.

Area financial institutions and non-profit organizations secured the funding, which homeowners won’t have to repay, through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati’s Disaster Reconstruction Program.

“It’s a great start,” said Amy Radachi, president and CEO of Rebuilding Together Dayton, one of four area nonprofits partnering with the FHLB. “This is a very complicated puzzle and this funding will play a very significant role in assembling that puzzle and putting lives back together again.”

INTERACTIVE MAP: See where thousands of properties were damaged in Montgomery County tornadoes

The fund provides qualified homeowners in Greene, Miami and Montgomery counties with grants up to $20,000 to repair, rebuild or replace homes and renters up to $5,000 toward the purchase of a new home.

Andy Howell, president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, said the grants help keep communities intact following natural disasters.

“In many cases, we see when this happens that communities might fall apart, residents leave, they don’t rebuild, they don’t come back,” he said. “And we want to help maintain the integrity of the community and help it thrive and survive moving forward.”

Jessica Brady of Harrison Twp. will be among the first recipients of the grant money. Her husband died three years ago on Memorial Day and she couldn’t afford homeowners insurance on her own, she said.

“I have a little boy. I’m a single mom,” said Brady, 39. “That was one of the things I let go.”

MORE Montgomery County waives permit, inspection fees for tornado demo, rebuilding

Brady received $3,000 from FEMA but that went only so far toward a new roof and repairing where a tree took out her seven-year-old son’s bedroom.

“The roof and wall ate up more than that,” she said.

A team including those from Rebuilding Together Dayton and nearby Shiloh Church assessed Brady’s Swallow Drive home Tuesday and told her they would be back Sept. 19 to begin repairs to the exterior siding and also put up new drywall inside her son’s room.

“I was in tears, happy tears,” Brady said Wednesday.

A record-breaking 21 tornadoes struck Ohio on Memorial Day night through the next morning, including 15 in the region. The largest, an EF-4, destroyed homes and businesses from Brookville to Riverside.

MORE: Local tornado victims slow to get FEMA aid approval

The grants do have certain income eligibility requirements, but those should not prevent Dayton-area tornado survivors from receiving one, said Cherish Cronmiller, president and CEO of Miami Valley Community Action Partnership.

Household income must be less than or equal to 100 percent of the applicable Mortgage Revenue Bond income limits. In Greene, Miami and Montgomery counties, for a family of one or two persons, the limit is $68,700 and for a family of three or more, the limit is $79,005.

Cronmiller said the $5 million will help fill the gaps between insurance, FEMA and other dollars including those coming from donors to the Dayton Foundation and other philanthropic efforts.

“We’re going to have to cobble all these types of things together,” Cronmiller said.

MORE: Busing issues, building repairs plague school districts after tornadoes

Up to 1,100 households were displaced by Memorial Day tornadoes in Montgomery County and more than 750 are still struggling to find a place to live, said Mary Kucenski, a FEMA voluntary agency liaison.

As of Wednesday morning, 4,286 individuals or households in Montgomery County had registered with FEMA. Greene County reported 561 registrations while 112 had registered in Miami County.

“Once we have access to the FEMA database, we can see of the 6,000-plus who have registered with FEMA then we can identify how many of those homeowners and how many of those have been impacted to the point they are able to be rebuilt.”

Other housing nonprofits in the coalition include County Corp and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton. Financial sponsor partners include CareSource, Huntington Bank and KeyBank.

Homeowners in Greene, Miami and Montgomery counties seeking repair assistance can call 937-250-7911.

Allowable expenses for the program include construction, acquisition, or repair of a primary residence, which must be a single-family detached home or manufactured home permanently attached to a fixed foundation and taxed as real property where the applicant is the owner of record. FHLB funds can’t be used for expenses covered by insurance or state or federal emergency management agencies.

MORE: Not all tornado survivors sign up for FEMA assistance

PHOTOS: Tornado outbreak in Miami Valley

Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge said it can be hard to remain positive through a long rebuilding process.

“We are so thankful for this funding,” she said. “This gives people in our community another avenue for much needed housing relief. This grant program is a welcome resource to those who lost their homes and their sense of stability and safety during the storm.”

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