Want money to harden your home? Funds for Florida program are drying up.

There’s a backlog of more than 19,000 grant applications.
A drone photo shows widespread destruction in Horseshoe Beach in the Big Bend area after Hurricane Idalia struck Aug. 30.
A drone photo shows widespread destruction in Horseshoe Beach in the Big Bend area after Hurricane Idalia struck Aug. 30. [ MAX CHESNES, MAX CHESNES | Times ]
Published Sept. 15|Updated Sept. 15

The wreckage caused by Hurricane Idalia has left some Floridians wondering if their homes are prepared to weather the next major storm.

Many have sought out home improvement grants from the My Safe Florida Home program. But as hurricane season rages on, there may not be enough funds left to meet the demand.

My Safe Florida Home was created through a sweeping property insurance reform package that passed in the Legislature last year. The program offers both free home inspections and home hardening grants up to $10,000.

Since the program launched in November, 38,751 have applied for grant funding and 19,052 have been approved. That’s according to the Department of Financial Services, which administers the program.

The initial $115 million in funds ran out by the spring and $100 million more was added in July. Now, there’s about $24.6 million left in the pot and 19,699 grant applications still being processed.

Though funds may run out before the backlog is cleared, the program is still accepting new applications and will continue to do so until all the money has been spent, said Devin Galetta, communications director for the state’s chief financial officer.

Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Homeowners whose grants are not approved with the current funding will remain in line if the program is renewed

“Due to its success, the program has received more than 800 new applicants a day, so it’s critical that it is refunded next year so more Floridians can benefit,” Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis stated in a news release sent Tuesday.

My Safe Florida Home will pay to replace windows, doors and roofs. The state chips in $2 for every $1 spent. Applicants who are deemed low-income can receive funds without having to make matching payments.

To participate:

• Residents must own and live in a single-family home or townhome. Mobile homes are exempt.

• Owners must receive the homestead exemption.

• The home must have an insured value of $700,000 or less.

• The initial building construction permit for the home must have been issued prior to Jan. 1, 2008.

• For the low-income grant, residents must earn 80% or less of the area median income.

• Applicants must agree to two free home inspections. One at the start of the application process and one once the work has been completed.

• Owners must use a contractor who has been approved for the program.

• Owners must pay the contractor in full before being reimbursed.


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