Skyrocketing Flood Insurance Rates Have Congress’ Attention
|By Natalie Sherman, The Baltimore Sun|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The house was in a flood zone, so they had to pay for flood insurace, but the
"I would never have been able, in my way of thinking, to afford this if I would have known the flood insurance would be
Advocates of delay say the removal of subsidies is making premiums much costlier than expected, hurting current homeowners like Yancheski and spooking waterfront housing markets.
Opponents say any delay provides a break to the rich and exacerbates problems faced by the flood insurance program.
"If you make the rates actuarially sound, the people living in high-risk situations are going to have to pay very high rates," said
The outcry has been compounded by the
As of 2013, 65 percent of the program's roughly 715,000 subsidized policies covered properties in counties with median household incomes in the nation's top 30 percent, according to a 2013 GAO analysis. Seventy-nine percent applied to properties in counties with home values in the top 30 percent.
The federal government started issuing flood insurance in 1968, when
The 2012 Biggert-Waters Act, which was supported by all 10 members of
"When Biggert-Waters got passed... we were very happy, but I don't think anyone understood what they put in it, that it was going to impact us as badly as it has," said
Another 6,400 properties in the state are exposed to an automatic jump to the full-risk rates prompted by a trigger, such as a change in ownership.
Real estate agents said they are watching the debate closely, worried that price increases will hurt the local market.
"The government has decided it's unaffordable for them," said
Others said they expect that the long-term effect will be more modest.
"People that want waterfront are usually fully aware of what that entails," said
Officials said they do not have firm numbers for how many
"It's not that they're removed from the floodplain, just they got a reduction in their flood insurance rates," said Strommen, adding that the city will continue to require major developments located in the 500-year flood zone to build in compliance with flood standards.
Yancheski, who served in the military and works part-time as a technician for an eye doctor, said he isn't sure why he has stopped receiving a subsidized rate, whether his bank let his policy lapse, new maps changed his qualifications, or
But he said he already felt the original
"The bottom line is you've got an
Biggert-Waters came attached to a bigger transportation bill, and needs to be reviewed, said Ruppersberger spokeswoman
"[Biggert-Waters] is an example of a compromise that was struck to get a jobs bill moving," she said. "Now we need to make sure
Yancheski said he is thinking about asking another surveyor to measure his home's elevation, but the increase in flood insurance premiums may mean he has to sell his house.
"I almost feel like they're pricing me ... out of the area," he said. "I almost feel like I should sell my house now, get what I can out of it and let somebody else deal with it."
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