$5.9 Million FEMA grant will be used to buy out landslide homes

Published: Aug. 9, 2017 at 3:13 PM MDT
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Some relief may be on the way for homeowners impacted by the devastating landslides in the west part of Colorado Springs back in 2015. The city says they now have a FEMA grant of nearly $6 million to buy out some of the worst-hit properties.

Crushed concrete, boarded up windows and empty homes are what's left of some of the worst hit properties two years after major landslides in Colorado Springs.

"The four houses just next door and up the hill from me have all been abandoned. I'm just still here, I can't give up after 30-plus years, I just can't give up quite yet," Lois Simonton said.

Her home is cracking and crumbling slowly before her eyes. She remembered when her structural engineer gave her the bad news back in 2015.

"He said, 'There's been a landslide behind your house, there's nothing you can do,'" Simonton recalled.

On Wednesday, the city announced that they've received a $5.9 million grant to help buy out the 27 homes impacted.

The money will reimburse up to 75 percent of the total costs, which include the cost of the property and the demolition.

Simonton says no one from the city told her this was finalized; she found out on the news. She and other neighbors 11 News spoke to say they'd like to see some transparency from the city.

"Keep us notified, tell us if you've picked who is going to do the demolition of the houses, what was the process for coming up with those people," she said.

No one from the city was available for an interview on Wednesday but they said once the impacted homes are demolished, the land will be converted to open space to mitigate future damage.

The city said they will determine how the grant money is used by using a prioritized list of impacted homes until funding is exhausted. Simonton said she'd like to see that list.

"If the city would have said, 'Lady, you're 24 on the list,' I would say, 'OK, I know what my odds are,' and I would have made different decisions," Simonton said.

A city spokesperson couldn't comment on how the properties are prioritized.

The city also announced that they will apply in-kind services and staff time towards the required 25 percent grant match that homeowners will have to pay -- which will lessen that cost.