By Roger McKinney
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Now the city can start spending the money.
At a presentation Thursday at Joplin City Hall, Theresa Porter, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deputy regional administrator, made official its $45 million Community Development Block Grant to the city. The grant had been announced previously. It is designed to help the city recover from the May 22, 2011, tornado.
City Manager Mark Rohr said Joplin has set the standard for responding to disasters, and that other towns can follow that standard.
“This is another tool, another resource to help us in our rebuilding effort,” Rohr said.
Rohr said HUD officials met with city officials 10 days after the tornado.
“They weren’t really telling us what to do, but they were planting a seed,” he said.
He said HUD’s response was based on its response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and its response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans.
Help in shepherding the funding through Congress came from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Rohr said.
“He carried the water in Congress,” Rohr said.
Porter said the Joplin tornado made an immediate impression on HUD officials.
“It’s seared in our hearts and our memories,” she said.
Ideas about how to respond started flowing immediately, Porter said.
“All we could think is: ‘How can we help? How can we help?’” she said.
The $45 million grant award was the answer the agency found.
“We’re here to help,” Porter said as she presented an oversized, ceremonial check.
“The story of Joplin has been a collaborative effort,” Rohr said, making note of the 154,000 registered volunteers, money donated by individuals, prayers, and assistance from the state and federal governments.
Projects connected with housing are the largest part of the budget for the disaster recovery grant, making up more than $31 million of the total. Those include almost $13 million for down payments and other forms of assistance for single-family homebuyers who need help getting back into a home. The goal is to build 400 houses to replace some of those destroyed by the tornado.
Also included in the $31 million housing total are $9 million toward building multifamily housing; $1.5 million for repairing single-family homes; and $8 million for property acquisition.
There is $5.4 million in the budget to restore the former Union Depot, which has been offered as a future home of the Joplin Museum Complex.
Also in budget
THE BUDGET for the disaster recovery grant includes $6.5 million for infrastructure projects: $2.5 million to build or rebuild sidewalks; $2 million for trails; and $2 million for tree planting.