Vermont to use COVID money to move vulnerable mobile homes

Bennington County
Mobile homes (oatsy40 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Mobile homes (oatsy40 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) — The state of Vermont is hoping to use $5 million in COVID-19 relief funds to help buy out and move mobile homes in areas at risk of flooding.

The plan builds on lessons learned during flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and aims to assist mobile home residents with finding a new place to live if they accept the buyout, said Vermont Emergency Management Hazard Mitigation Officer Stephanie Smith.

“It’s not enough just to buy a property; we need to know that someone has somewhere to go, or whoever we’re buying it from has someplace to go,” Smith said.

Vermont Public Radio said a recent statewide report listed flood danger as one of the key areas of concern for mobile home parks across the state. The report singled out parks in Starksboro, Braintree, and Bennington as having the greatest risk of damage.

“A lot of them are in a vulnerable flood area. And during Irene, there were certainly a lot of parks that were impacted pretty significantly because of their location in flood risk areas,” Smith said.

The task is made more complicated because many mobile home residents own their homes, but rent the land where they are located. Many older homes can’t be moved, and the federal buyout program often doesn’t completely cover the full cost of moving.

Vermont has wide discretion over how it spends over $2.7 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding it’s expected to receive.

On Monday the Vermont Department of Health reported 222 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to just under 35,900. There were 41 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 12 in intensive care. The state is reporting a total of 335 fatalities.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 199.57 new cases per day on September 25 to 207.29 new cases per day on October 9. The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the U.S.

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