Voluntary Flood-Prone Buyout Program
The DuPage County Voluntary Buyout Program provides eligible homeowners that are subject to severe damage from flooding the opportunity to sell their homes at its fair market value. The house is then demolished, and the property is maintained as open space. Removing flood damaged homes is a cost-effective flood reduction tool that DuPage County Stormwater Management has been using since its inception.
- From 1989 to 1999, Stormwater purchased 78 homes using Stormwater funds as a part of its watershed planning efforts.
- After severe flooding in 1996, Stormwater and FEMA completed the acquisition of an additional 49 flood-prone homes in the Valley View subdivision along the East Branch DuPage River.
- From 2016–2018, Stormwater purchased 30 homes using federal grant dollars as part of the Voluntary Buyout Program.
In total, DuPage County Stormwater Management has purchased over 130 homes. Several municipalities and the State of Illinois have worked with Stormwater to purchase over 350 properties since 1989 for the purpose of flood damage reduction and stormwater management.
Today, the Voluntary Buyout Program is largely funded by federal grant dollars from various grant programs. Stormwater applies for grants as they become available, usually once a year. Other grants are typically available following severe flood events (if a federal disaster declaration is made). Stormwater chooses properties to include in buyout grant applications based on several factors, which are outlined in the following section.
The Voluntary Buyout Program is a countywide program in which structures not protected by capital improvements projects in approved watershed plans may be eligible for buyout by DuPage County Stormwater Management. A structure may be eligible if one or more conditions are met:
- it is subject to flooding depths of one foot above the low entry elevation for any one historic event;
- it is subject to flooding depths of one-half foot for any two historic flood events;
- is designated a FEMA repetitive loss structure.
- Other factors may be considered such as:
- documented flood losses based on photographs and/or insurance claims
- testimonial from municipalities
- proximity to a floodplain/floodway
The homeowner must be willing to participate in the program and willing to accept the Fair Market Value of the property as established by a qualified appraiser. Buyout eligibility is typically considered on a case-by-case basis after conversations with the homeowner and consideration of available data.
Priority of buyouts is based on the date of eligibility confirmation, regardless of the severity of flooding in a home. When federal grant dollars are used for buyouts, Stormwater is required to follow all eligibility criteria as stated in the grant program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), including a benefit-cost ratio of 1 or more.
Once a property is determined to be eligible and federal funds become available, the Buyout process can begin. The process and approximate duration of each step are listed below.
- An application for assistance is prepared by SWM with input from the community and homeowners with destroyed or severely damaged properties. SWM will have knowledge of the State’s priorities and all other special restrictions. (2-3 months)
- The State receives and reviews the application and submits those deemed appropriate to FEMA for approval. FEMA will review the applications to ensure that they follow the rules, are environmentally sound, and are a cost-effective use of funds. (3 months)
- Upon FEMA approval, grant funding is awarded for the project. (2 months)
- Property appraisal, title search, and environmental survey are completed. Once the homeowner accepts the buyout offer, the average time to close is 45 days. (6 months)
- Once closing occurs, the lot is converted to open space and remains as such in perpetuity. (2-3 months)
The entire buyout process typically lasts between 1.5-2 years.
How to Apply
Homeowners can be considered for a Voluntary Buyout once the Buyout Eligibility form is submitted by email or mail. Stormwater staff will respond in writing to confirm or deny eligibility. Only applications filled out by the current homeowner will be considered; third parties are not permitted to apply for a buyout on a homeowner’s behalf. To receive a Buyout Eligibility form, please contact us at 630-407-6673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.