Flood insurance updates pouring in

Charleston County Council member Anna Johnson is organizing a public forum titled "Living in a Flood Zone" to take place next week on Johns Island. Buy this photo

It seems like the new year has set off a call to action to address the effects of the controversial changes to the nation's flood insurance program.

On the legislative front, state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, announced he plans to introduce a bill in Columbia to prevent lenders from foreclosing on homeowners who are current on their mortgages but are unable to pay escalating flood insurance premiums.

On the community front, Charleston County Council member Anna B. Johnson is organizing a public roundtable discussion that will delve into flood insurance later next week. The meeting about floodplain management and changes to the federal flood program will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 at John's Island Regional Library, 3531 Maybank Highway.

The two announcements came within the same week as reports that momentum is building for approval of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, a bipartisan measure to delay certain pieces of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act.

The 2012 law was designed to help get National Flood Insurance Program on better financial footing. The reforms include new maps and the elimination of subsidies for policy holders. Rate increases are expected to average 10 percent but some have shown to be much higher.

The law has many real estate experts predicting major consequences for the U.S. housing market, particularly since one piece of the law does away with subsidies once a home is sold.

Details of the affordability act include delaying the new rates for people purchasing homes from someone who currently has a subsidized flood policy. The Senate is planning to vote on the legislation as early as this month, according to reports.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.

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