NewsPasco County


Hudson homeowners frustrated over county's 'buy-out' proposal for homes surrounding depressions

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 17:48:09-05

HUDSON, Fla. — First, they faced more than 70 depressions opening up near their homes, now homeowners in a Pasco County neighborhood face a new obstacle. They now have to come up with money to apply for a grant that, if given, may be costly.

The majority of the depressions in the Willow Brook neighborhood in Hudson started forming last year. Since then, the county has put up barriers blocking homeowners from driving to their homes.

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Now, those homeowners are trying to figure out what to do next, but they say the county’s suggestion to help them is unfair.

“It’s a zero cost solution for them,” said Michael Rea, a homeowner in the Willow Brook neighborhood.

Pasco County’s idea to alleviate the burden depressions have put on homeowners in Hudson are through FEMA grants.

“We’ve been asked to come up with plot plans and elevation certificates and there’s more to come, but these are expense items that each of the 15 homeowners has to come up with,” said Rea.

Once homeowners get those items together, they’re added to a portfolio to be submitted to FEMA in the next few months, but approval for the grants and funding could take a while.

“They told us it could take up to five years for a FEMA approval,” said Rea.

That’s if FEMA approves it at all.

“It’s somewhat of a long shot, but it is a possibility,” said Monica Santiago.

The county is hoping to be able to attribute depression damage to hurricanes. They would be applying for funding that other disaster impacted areas still have left over.

“If those communities or those counties do not put in any type of project for it, it gets opened to the entire state, and once that happens, it gives us the opportunity to apply for it,” said Santiago.

If it comes to fruition, FEMA would offer affected homeowners 75 percent of their home’s appraisal value.

Homeowner’s are then left writing a check for the other 25 percent in order to get out of their home, but the county says they are looking at additional options to help with that 25 percent.

“The county understands that this isn’t the fault of the homeowners. We’re working to be able to acquire additional funding in order to buy them out of the 25 percent,” said Santiago.

Still, homeowners are unhappy with the work currently being done, and they want options.

“There’s no contingency plan, period. We’ve asked for a contingency plan, there is none,” said Rea.

The county says they’re just trying for whatever they can while looking for other opportunities.

Pasco County says they’ve dedicated a group of workers to focus on this issue and help these people get out of their homes.

They’re hoping to submit the FEMA applications as soon as possible.