There has been an uptick in activity at the Wayne County ReBuild NC Application Center following a recent visit to the county by N.C. Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry.
More than 200 applications have been filed thus far for help through the federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.
Meanwhile, three new Hurricane Matthew Housing Recovery Application Centers recently opened, including one in Kinston, to help hurricane survivors whose homes were damaged by the devastating storm that struck in October 2016.
The Lenoir County ReBuild NC Application Center is located in the Lenoir Pride of Kinston Building, 327 N. Queen St., Kinston.
It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
Centers have also opened in Windsor and Fair Bluff. The four existing centers are in Goldsboro, Fayetteville, Tarboro and Lumberton.
The Wayne County office is located in the former Farm Services Agency office, 209 W. Spruce St.
It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Hurricane Matthew caused an estimated $4.8 billion in damage to North Carolina, damaging nearly 100,000 homes.
Several hundred local residents gathered at the Maxwell Center on June 15 to air their grievances, ask questions and tell their stories to Sprayberry.
He was in Goldsboro after residents took their concerns about the slow pace of recovery to Wayne County commissioners and appealed to Sprayberry to address those concerns in person.
They have even formed their own Facebook group, Hurricane Matthew Victims Seeking Answers.
Sprayberry told residents the delay is primarily bureaucratic, and state officials said it will be the end of July before Wayne County storm victims receive any of the funding.
There are two funds.
The first is the Wayne County hazard mitigation grant programs recovery project that is made up of 84 property buyouts currently approved.
It will cost nearly $9 million, which means that it must go through additional levels of federal approval before the Federal Emergency Management Agency will fund the project, Sprayberry said.
The second program, North Carolina's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery, will help with housing repairs, homeowner reimbursement and other housing-related issues.
It is funded by the federal government through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development. Those are the applications being accepted through ReBuild NC Application Centers.
This recovery help is in addition to more than $650 million already spent on Hurricane Matthew recovery in North Carolina.
"While hundreds of North Carolinians have gotten help recovering from Hurricane Matthew, we believe there are others who have yet to apply for help," Gov. Roy Cooper said. "I urge survivors with homes damaged by Matthew to reach out for help today by calling 2-1-1. Even if you've already repaired your home, you may be able to get money back."
The first step in the process is calling 2-1-1 to set up an appointment at an application center.
At the appointment, housing recovery specialists will guide disaster survivors through completing the full application.
State officials recommend that applicants expect to spend two hours completing their application during the appointment.
People who have already applied for the CDBG-DR program do not need to reapply, although they may check on the status of their application by calling 2-1-1.
People who have been accepted into the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program do not need to reapply.
People who live in any of the 22 counties eligible for CDBG-DR funds may make an appointment to apply at any ReBuild NC Application Center.
The following counties are eligible: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Tyrrell, Wayne and Wilson.
Homeowners can apply for the following types of assistance:
Single-family home repair.
Single family home reconstruction.
Reimbursement for housing repair (get money back for repairs already made).
Mobile home owners can apply for:
Mobile home repair programs.
Mobile home replacement.
Landlords with eight or fewer units can apply for:
Small rental program assistance.
Renters can apply for:
Temporary rental assistance.
The state is also offering funding assistance to help repair or build affordable housing for low to moderate income renters in heavily impacted communities.
Program description details are available online at rebuild.nc.gov/apply.
Applicants are asked to bring required documents with them to their appointment, but are encouraged to begin the process even if they do not have all the required paperwork.
Required documents include: photo identification, proof of legal residency, proof they lived in the damaged residence at the time of Hurricane Matthew, any before and after pictures of the property (if available), a copy of a tax return or last three pay stubs for all adults who live in the home, copies of insurance payments received for the damaged property, copies of all other assistance received (FEMA, SBA, charity), and receipts and photos for any repairs already completed prior to application.
Homeowners will also need to provide proof of ownership. Renters need to provide copy of their lease.
For the full checklist of documents to bring and more information on the application process, go to rebuild.nc.gov/apply.
Applying is the first step toward getting housing recovery assistance.
Once an applicant completes the application and provides all required documentation, the applicant's file will be reviewed for eligibility.
That review includes verifying the applicant's income and residence, certifying the home is not in foreclosure, determining the total disaster assistance already provided and reviewing receipts of repairs already completed.
The next steps include a federally required environmental inspection of the property and determining the grant amount to be awarded.
At each step of the process, applicants will have an opportunity to learn the status of their application.
Once an application is approved and the grant amount determined, contractors are selected, construction agreements are finalized and construction can begin.
Once work is completed, a final walk-through is scheduled with the homeowner, contractor and ReBuild staff.