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New program to help Colorado homeowners rebuild after wildfires

The program allows Colorado homeowners to apply for grants or traditional loans to help cover some of the rebuilding costs.

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — Hundreds of homeowners across Colorado are still waiting to rebuild after losing their homes in wildfires.

Wednesday night, the state introduced a new program that can help cover some of the costs for those families. It's called the State of Colorado Housing Recovery Program.

Disaster-impacted households can apply for grants or loans. Qualifications for the grant program will be based on household income, for grants up to $100,000. The loan program offers funds up to $50,000.

Wednesday night, the Department of Local Affairs introduced the program to people in Grand County, where, two years after the East Troublesome Fire, recovery is slow. By October, only 135 rebuilding permits had been issued – about a third of the total homes lost.

There are three different funding sources for the program, including about $12 million in state funds and another $12 million in federal funds. At the meeting, DOLA representatives acknowledged the limitations of that money.

“These monies are available to fill a portion of the gap. And that's sort of a big statement,” said Tim Katers, who led the presentation. “None of the disaster recovery funds are intended to make you whole.”

The state wants to focus on low-income households first. The funds are only available for people who lost their primary residence – not a second home, a vacation home or a short-term rental.

The state shared a list of state-declared disasters dating back to 2018 that are eligible for assistance. The list includes other large disasters like the Cameron Peak Fire, Marshall Fire and Calwood Fire.

The portion of this program that includes state funds was established by a state law passed this year. 

Even though the money helps with disasters going back to 2018, DOLA said the expenses themselves have to be money spent since the law passed on May 17, 2022.

The state hopes to open applications in about two weeks.

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