Wolf Administration Announces Harrisburg Sinkhole Buyouts Project Moving Forward

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) today announced the first round of buyouts for residents impacted by sinkholes along 14th Street in Harrisburg are underway.

“These homeowners have been waiting a long time for this, and we are proud that local, state, and federal levels of government worked together and were able to find eligible funding for this project,” said PEMA director Richard D. Flinn, Jr. “Permanently moving people out of harm’s way is the best way to avoid damages and death or injury in the future.”

In the past, sinkholes were not eligible projects for federal pre-disaster mitigation grant funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In light of the situation in Harrisburg and after much hard work from elected officials and state personnel, FEMA now has a policy that allows for sinkhole projects.

PEMA worked with the city to submit an application under the new policy and was awarded $2.2 million in grant funding, which was not enough to cover all costs of the projects. PEMA and DCED then collaborated to use United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding to pay for the rest of the project.

DCED worked with the city and its engineers to help tie the sinkhole disaster to the 2011 Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which allowed DCED to reprioritize these homes in imminent danger to health and safety as an eligible buyout activity. DCED worked closely with HUD to ensure their concurrence through this process and receive $3.1 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding.

“This project is great news for the residents of Harrisburg who have suddenly found their homes and their families in danger due to these sinkholes,” DCED secretary Dennis Davin said. “It’s a great example of how putting our heads together with other state and federal agencies enabled us to find a solution that works for the people of Pennsylvania. DCED will provide ongoing support to residents going through this process by offering technical assistance and relocation assistance.”

Both the FEMA and DCED grants will pay for the acquisition and closing fees for the buy-outs, demolition and minimal site restoration. The location will be deed restricted so structures or any improvements cannot be placed on the site, which must remain open space.

For more information about the Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant and other DCED initiatives, visit dced.pa.gov and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Ruth A. Miller, PEMA, ruthmiller@pa.gov
Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132

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