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MSD Expects Quick Home Buyout Program To Come In Under Budget

MSD home buyout
A stop work order from MSD.

In about a month, Metropolitan Sewer District officials will wrap up a short-term program aimed at buying out homeowners whose houses flood frequently.

Twenty-two houses qualify for the million-dollar program funded by MSD. The agency is seeking to buy 21 of them; one homeowner has decided to elevate their house with federal funds instead of pursuing a buyout.

Earlier this year, a citywide working group recommended the program in an effort to help homeowners whose houses were flooding so often they were barred from repairs due to an arcane city law.

So far, the agency has 20 buyout applications in the pipeline for houses it has designated top priority. As of Aug. 17, nine offers had been made or accepted, according to MSD’s records.

David Johnson, a development manager with MSD, said the agency has doled out an average of about $20,000 to $30,000 per home. The rest is being provided by insurance and, in some cases, federal emergency aid.

“As it stands right now, it looks like we will be under the million [dollars] for the 20 properties,” he said.

Johnson said MSD hopes to buy out a total of 21 homeowners. The agency will then have to decide how to deal with a second list of houses that have also experienced frequent and damaging flooding.

“If at the end of the process there are some leftover dollars, we would then have to then go before our board again to ask if they want to look at the priority B properties at that point,” Johnson said.

Funding for another phase of the buyout program would also have to be approved by the MSD board.