LUMBERTON — Robeson County is in line to receive as much as $71 million of the nearly $237 million in U.S. Housing and Urban Development money that has been allocated to North Carolina for rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
The $237 million represents three funding authorizations, two of which the state hasn’t yet applied for, Jamie Bowers, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose 9th Congressional District includes Robeson County, said Friday.
The $71 million designated for Robeson County is included in $198 million secured in December 2016 and released to the North Carolina Office of Emergency Management in August, Bowers said. The $198 million has not been released by Emergency Management to the individual counties, including Robeson, Cumberland, and Bladen, to help with the building of homes.
An additional $6.1 million in HUD funding was approved in May. Pittenger helped secure a further $32 million in July following conversations with HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, according to Bowers.
Bowers said it has not yet been determined how much of the more than $38 million waiting to be released to North Carolina will be designated for Robeson County.
According to a statement from Pittenger’s office, there are indications this money won’t be fully released by North Carolina Emergency Management until December, and home construction won’t start until February 2018.
“This is incredibly frustrating, but much more so for families in Robeson, Cumberland and Bladen who are still awaiting promised help to rebuild their homes,” Pittenger said. “We appropriated almost $200 million last December, and the money still hasn’t been spent. Meanwhile, homes in South Carolina are already being rebuilt with HUD funding.”
To date, $1.28 billion in federal funding has been provided for Hurricane Matthew recovery in North Carolina, according to Bowers. This includes money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Flood Insurance Program, U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Federal Highway Administration, FEMA Case Management, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
On Sept. 28, local, county and state officials, and Robeson County residents attended a Hurricane Matthew recovery update in Lumberton that was sponsored by the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. The session focused on the need for financial assistance to keep hurricane recovery efforts moving forward.
“It’s been a year and people are displaced and misplaced all over the place,” Lumberton City Councilman John Cantey said during the meeting. “…We been waiting over a year and we can’t take it anymore.”