Florida’s $250 Million Property Loss Mitigation Program Begins

August 15, 2006

Florida has begun My Safe Florida Home program, a $250 million mitigation program to help Floridians strengthen their homes against hurricanes and to reduce property losses.

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officerStarting today, said eligible Floridians can apply for a free home inspection and professional recommendations on how to improve their homes’ ability to withstand a hurricane. Gallagher said that as many as 50,000 Florida households will be served over the next year through this program.

The new law creating the program went into effect on July 1.

“I applaud the Florida Legislature for providing a tremendous financial commitment to make older homes more resistant to damage caused by hurricanes,” said Governor Jeb Bush.

Gallagher said the state’s goal is to have 12,000 free home inspections completed and grants awarded before the end of the current hurricane season.

“Fortifying homes in Florida is a common-sense solution for the insurance crisis in our state,” he said.

To be eligible to apply for a free home inspection, Floridians must live in a single-family, site-built home with an insured value of $500,000 or less and have a valid homestead exemption. Documents verifying this information must be submitted with a completed application. Floridians can apply on-line at www.mysafefloridahome.com or by calling 1-800-342-2762 to get an application packet.

Once an inspection has been done, the homeowner shouldl receive a report within 7 to 10 days that outlines up to seven areas that could be improved to better protect the home against hurricanes, an estimate of how much each of those improvements would cost, the expected savings the homeowner would receive if the improvements were made, and a rating of the home’s current ability to withstand hurricanes and its future ability with improvements.

The state has worked with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) to screen and train 130 inspectors to begin work within the next two weeks. An additional 400 inspectors are expected to complete the screening and training required within the next 30 days.

Homeowners who undergo the My Safe Florida Home inspection may also qualify for matching grants of up to $5,000 to fortify their homes. Grants will be prioritized and awarded to homeowners who live in high-risk, hurricane-vulnerable areas of the state.

Gallagher said the department will also start screening and qualifying contractors to perform retrofit improvements this week. A registry of participating contractors by county and by the type of work they perform will soon be available on-line at www.mysafefloridahome.com or by calling the department.

Source: Florida Chief Financial Officer

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