DOLA Presents Its Marshall Funding Disaster Recovery Grant Plan

People looking to rebuild from the Marshall Fire will have an additional source of funding.
People looking to rebuild from the Marshall Fire will have an additional source of funding. Evan Semon
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs is now accepting public comment on the action plan for the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, funding dedicated to helping people recover from the December 2021 Marshall fire in Boulder County.

The CDBG grant is for $7.415 million and covers housing, infrastructure, economic development and resilience needs. HUD requires that 70 percent of the disaster recovery grant be earmarked for low- and moderate-income households, with 80 percent of the funds to be used in Boulder County.

“This is just one piece of the larger recovery pie,” Dave Bowman, DOLA’s deputy director of the division of local government, said at an August 17 informational meeting. “We don't want people to think that, ‘Oh, this is one pot of money to solve all of our problems.’ It's not that. We are going to leverage that with others to be the best that we can and plug everything together.”

People will only have to apply once to be eligible for all the Marshall fire recovery funding through the state, which also includes money appropriated by the Colorado Legislature and the state’s annual CDBG budget that’s not part of the grant.

Will Cundiff, the CDBG disaster recovery program manager, said the department determined that residential damage was the largest unmet recovery need: Residential damage totaled over $500 million, and commercial damage was only $66 million. Additionally, 97 percent of all the structures damaged or destroyed by the fire were homes.

Those who owned their homes as well as owners of rental properties are eligible for rebuilding funds; single-family homes, townhomes, condos and mobile homes could all qualify.  Anyone at up to 80 percent of the area median income in Boulder County is eligible for a $50,000 grant through the CDBG Disaster Recovery program, and anyone at up to 120 percent of the area median income can apply for CDBG Disaster Recovery money.

Those over 120 percent of the area median income can still apply for funding from the state’s Disaster Resilience Rebuilding Program.

If someone is looking to rebuild a rental property, the action plan allocates $600,000 for those expenses. If a property does receive grant money, it must remain affordable for a certain number of years based on the amount of funding.

Aside from housing rebuilding costs, the grant dedicates almost $1 million to three mitigation programs.

“These programs were produced based on community input that we've heard, on our own analysis of the needs that exist for committee members, as well as local governments,” Natasha Albert, resilient recovery manager for DOLA, explained at the meeting.

The programs include one for wind and wildfire housing protection, one for infrastructure assistance and one for resilience planning and education. According to Albert, there's an increasing likelihood of high-wind events that can impact mobile homes. The infrastructure program is for local governments in Louisville, Superior and Boulder County, to help with their mitigation programs. The education program is aimed to help local governments reach out to citizens about resilience and disaster planning.

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, Bowman said that preliminary estimates indicate that only about 100 of the approximately 1,000 homes destroyed in the fire meet the 80 percent or below threshold for maximum funding, though others can still apply for lesser grants.

People can offer feedback on the plan until September 16 by using a DOLA form or by contacting Cundiff. From there, the final action plan will be submitted to HUD. After it's approved, the funds will likely start being dispersed in January 2023.

And even once the plan is finalized, DOLA can adjust as needs change. “We have the flexibility to modify this plan,” Bowman noted.
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Catie Cheshire is a staff writer at Westword. After getting her undergraduate degree at Regis University, she went to Arizona State University for a master's degree. She missed everything about Denver -- from the less-intense sun to the food, the scenery and even the bus system. Now she's reunited with Denver and writing news for Westword.
Contact: Catie Cheshire