The federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides financial assistance to state and local governments to implement actions that will reduce, minimize, or eliminate future risk to property and infrastructure from the effects of natural hazards. While individual homeowners cannot directly apply for funding, local governments with a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan may apply on their behalf.
The Town has developed a Home Elevation Grant Program to assist residents in applying for HMGP funding. Grants are used to raise a resident’s home above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in the 100-year floodplain. Federal funding for the HMGP is only available following a Presidential major disaster declaration. Each HMGP funding round is competitive statewide and authorized under Section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). The total amount of funding available in each round is based on a percentage of the estimated total damage from the disaster event.
The HMGP is administered jointly by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). MEMA is the recipient of HMGP funding and is responsible for recommending grant applications to FEMA for further review and approval. Because HMGP funding is limited, not all applications from local governments may be recommended for approval. In addition, the Town may choose to sponsor only a limited number of home elevation projects in a single year, given the complexity of the grant program.
The last HMGP funding round closed in 2015. The following documents are provided for reference only and are expected to be revised when new HMGP funding becomes available:
What is hazard mitigation/home elevation?
Hazard mitigation describes actions that reduce or eliminate long-term risks caused by natural or man-made disasters. Hazard mitigation is an important phase in the cycle of emergency management, helping to break the repetitive cycle of damage, repair, and damage again.
The HMGP is intended to fund long-term, cost-effective hazard mitigation improvements that reduce, minimize, or eliminate risk to people and property caused by natural hazards. Projects that address deferred maintenance, repairs, or replacement of existing structures, without a change in the level of protection, are NOT eligible for federal assistance.
Actions eligible for HMGP funding generally include:
- Culvert upgrades
- Drainage improvements
- Property acquisition
- Slope stabilization
- Infrastructure protection
- Seismic and wind retrofits
- Home or structure elevations
“Home or structure elevations” involve the physical raising of a building's floors and utilities above the BFE to eliminate risks for flooding. The HMPG provides funding for cost-effective home elevations that are designed and constructed to meet or exceed the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Standards for Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE 24-14). Under these standards, any home located in a Special Flood Hazard Area with the potential for breaking waves and erosion during the Base Flood, must be elevated on an open foundation to allow floodwaters to flow freely underneath. These areas include the V Zone and Coastal A Zone.
What are the benefits?
A home elevation project can help:
- Reduce or eliminate future risk to your property from the effects of natural hazards
- Increase your home’s resilience to the impacts of climate change
- Reduce the hours needed to prepare your home for a potential disaster event
- Lower your home’s annual flood insurance premium
- Increase your home’s property value
What is the grant cost share?
The HMGP is a reimbursement grant program: funds are reimbursed for allowable, approved, and completed work that has been paid in full by the grant recipient. The reimbursement rate is 75 percent, which means that at least 25 percent of the total project cost is the responsibility of the homeowner.
The following are common eligible costs that FEMA may approve and reimburse through the HMGP:
- New foundations
- Physical elevation
- Basement fills
- Utility connections
- Egress requirements
- Repairs for damages caused by elevation activities
What to consider before applying
Once approved for HMGP funding, homeowners will be required to sign a Sub-Grantee Agreement with the Town. Under this agreement, homeowners will asked to acknowledge and agree to the following:
- All work must be completed in compliance with local and state building codes and the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Standards for Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE 24-14).
- The homeowner must file, obtain, and, as necessary, record all appropriate permits for construction, including conservation and similar permitting, and provide the Town with a complete set of permits and project plans for approval by MEMA and FEMA. No work may start prior to FEMA’s approval of the homeowner's construction permits and plans.
- The HMGP is a reimbursement grant program whereby funds are reimbursed after eligible and approved costs are paid by the homeowner. If costs exceed the amount of grant funding awarded for the project, the homeowner is responsible for paying the overrun. Additional funding may be requested to assist the homeowner but approval is not be guaranteed.
- The homeowner is responsible for supervising his/her contractor and ensuring that the contractor’s work does not add to or deviate from the home elevation’s approved scope of work. Changes in the scope of work will require approval from FEMA in writing BEFORE the work takes place. Non-approved changes can result in the loss of grant funds.
- The homeowner must keep good records of payments to his/her contractor and must respond in a timely manner to requests from the Town for project updates and information.
- The homeowner must execute and record at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds an Acknowledgement of Conditions for Mitigation of Property in a Special Flood Hazard Area with FEMA Grant Funds. This acknowledgement will require the homeowner (and all subsequent owners) to maintain insurance on the property through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to an amount at least equal to the project cost or to the maximum limit of coverage made available for the property, whichever is less, until the property is either demolished or relocated out of the Special Flood Hazard Area.
- The homeowner must provide the following for receipt of his/her final grant reimbursement: (a) as-built construction plans prepared by a professional engineer or equal; (b) a post-construction elevation certificate prepared by a licensed land surveyor or equal; (c) certificate of occupancy from the Town’s Department of Municipal Licenses and Inspections; (d) copies of paid invoices marked “Paid” and signed by the homeowner and his/her contractor; (e) copies of canceled checks, or equal, as proof of payment for invoices; and (f) a receipt from the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds for the recording of a signed Acknowledgement of Conditions for Mitigation of Property in a Special Flood Hazard Area with FEMA Grant Funds, showing book and page numbers.
What is the process for applying?
- Decision to Apply. Applying for HMGP funding is voluntary. Homeowners should carefully consider the total cost (time and money) of applying for and receiving federal hazard mitigation assistance.
- Application Development. A homeowner must submit the following items to the Town:
- A complete and notarized Resident Application.
- A plot plan prepared by a licensed land surveyor. Search for licensed land surveyors here.
- A structural elevation plan prepared by a professional engineer.
- Cost estimates from at least three general contractors (GCs). Estimates must be typewritten and provide a detailed breakdown of construction services. IMPORTANT - The Town should review your plans BEFORE you seek estimates.
- A scope of work, or written narrative, describing how the home elevation will be completed.
- An Elevation Certificate prepared and stamped by a licensed land surveyor.
- A Declaration Page for the homeowner's existing flood insurance policy.
- Town Review. The Town will review the homeowner's submittals for completeness and satisfaction of program requirements. The Town will also complete a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) for each home elevation. A benefit-cost ratio must be generated for each elevation, as well as all elevations collectively, using FEMA’s BCA software. To be eligible for federal funding, a HMGP application must have a collective benefit-cost ratio of 1.0 or greater.
- State Review. The Town will prepare and submit a single, comprehensive HMGP application on behalf of approved homeowners. MEMA will review, score, and rank all HMGP applications and make recommendations to FEMA for further review and approval.
- Federal Review. FEMA will review all HMGP applications recommended by the state. FEMA is responsible for all final funding decisions and may request additional information to evaluate applications. IMPORTANT - FEMA is under no statutory time limit to make a decision. It may be months or years before FEMA provides final approval for a HMGP application.
- Disaster Declarations (FEMA)
- Presentation: FY15 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants (MEMA, 2015)
- Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance (FEMA, 2015)
- Homeowner's Guide to the HMGP (FEMA)
- Fact Sheet: Elevation Certificates - Who Needs Them and Why (FEMA, 2015)
- FAQs: Engineers, Surveyors and Architects (FEMA)
- Fact Sheet: Highlights of ASCE 24-14 (FEMA, 2015)
- Guidance for Applying ASCE 24 Engineering Standards (FEMA, 2013)
- Manual: Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage (FEMA, 2010)