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Workgroup Appointed to Study Solutions for Flooded Louisville Homes

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Louisville's mayor and Metro Council president appointed members on Tuesday to the workgroup that will study the regulations that prohibit homeowners from repairing certain flooded homes in the city.

As WFPL’s Ashley Lopezreported last week,a little-known federal rule prohibits people from repairing homes that over the course of a decade have had more than 50 percent of the property’s assessed value in damages. After recent flooding, many homeowners found out that their homes were already close to that 50 percent mark, and as the area’s floodplain manager, the Metropolitan Sewer District is tasked with enforcing the rule.

The reason behind the rule has to do with flood insurance.

"Because most flood insurance across the country was—and is still— subsidized by taxpayer money, federal officials wanted to make sure taxpayers weren’t paying for the same repairs over and over again without an end in sight. So any home that was costing more than half its value was deemed a bad investment for taxpayer money. That’s why a rule was made to require these homes to be moved, elevated or torn down."

But now, some Louisville homeowners are essentially homeless: they can’t live in their homes, but they also can’t repair them and are still stuck paying the mortgage.

Now, Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David Tandy have appointed a group to study the issue and possible short-term and long-term solutions.

The group is chaired by MSD Executive Director Greg Heitzman. It  also includes MSD employees John Phelps, Joyce Mott and Angela Akridge. Other members include Councilmembers Dan Johnson, Madonna Flood and Angela Leet; Develop Louisville Director Jim Mims; All Hazards Mitigation Coordinator Jim McKinney; and Tonya Sangester of the city's Emergency Management Agency.

One of the options homeowners have suggestedis a buy-out of their homes. These homeowners are also considering a lawsuit if action isn’t taken soon. In a news release, the city said the workgroup’s recommendations are expected to be issued within six months.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.