Florida Announces Initial Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program Details

July 18, 2006

Roof deck attachment, secondary water barriers, roof coverings, brace gable ends, reinforced roof-to-wall connections, opening protection and exterior doors, including garage doors, are included in a two-step process to be implemented in August by Florida’s Department of Financial Services.

DFS has announced a two-step process to help homeowners meet the requirements of the comprehensive “Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program,” initiated by the Florida Legislature during its spring session, after which Tom Gallagher, Florida’s CFO was asked to oversee efforts to put the program into operation.

According to DFS, this process will involve a two step process: 1) the applicant must undergo a free home inspection; and 2) the applicant must apply for a matching grant.

Individual matching grants of up to $5,000 will be available for homes valued up to $500,000; while low-income homeowners will be eligible for $5,000 grants with no match required.

Implementation of the program is subject to annual legislative appropriations. The legislation provided free home-retrofit inspections of site-built, residential property, including single-family, two-family, three-family and four-family residential units.

The purpose of the program is to determine what mitigation measures are needed and what improvements to existing residential properties are needed to reduce the property’s vulnerability to hurricane damage.

DFS will establish a request for proposals and solicit them from wind certification entities to provide at no cost to homeowners wind certification and hurricane mitigation inspections. The inspections provided to homeowners, at a minimum, must include:

1. A home inspection and report summarizing the results and identifying corrective actions a homeowner may take to mitigate hurricane damage.

2. A range of cost estimates regarding the mitigation features.

3. Insurer-specific information regarding premium discounts correlated to recommended mitigation features identified by the inspection.

4. A hurricane resistance rating scale specifying the home’s current as well as projected wind resistance capabilities.

The legislation encourages financial grants to encourage single-family, site-built, owner-occupied, residential property owners to retrofit their properties to make them less vulnerable to hurricane damage.

To be eligible for a grant, a residential property must:

1. Have been granted a homestead exemption under Chapter 196.

2. Be a dwelling with an insured value of $500,000 or less.

3. Have undergone an acceptable wind certification and hurricane mitigation inspection.

A residential property which is part of a multi-family residential unit may receive a grant only if all homeowners participate and the total number of units do not exceed four.

All grants must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis for a total of $10,000 for the mitigation project with the state’s contribution not to exceed $5,000.

The program will create a process in which mitigation contractors agree to participate and seek reimbursement from the state and homeowners select from a list of participating contractors.

Detailed information is available at www.fldfs.com.

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