After completing 12,000 free home inspections by the end of the 2006 hurricane season – a goal that was exceeded by nearly 1,000 inspections – the pilot phase of the My Safe Florida Home program ended last week.
The program, funded with $250 million from the Florida Legislature, was created to better protect Floridians by strengthening their homes against hurricanes and to reduce the state’s exposure to hurricane damage.
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, said an estimated 560 inspectors and 800 contractors have been specifically trained for the program during the pilot phase.
“When we launched the My Safe Florida Home program in August, my goal was to provide 12,000 free home inspections by the end of this hurricane season, and we have served nearly 13,000 homeowners,” Gallagher said. “Fortifying homes in Florida is our top priority and we were able to exceed our service goal thanks to the hard work and dedication of every person involved in this program. I’m proud of what they’ve been able to achieve.”
Since the program launched in August, the Department of Financial Services has received more than 58,000 applications statewide for free home inspections from homeowners. The inspections will tell homeowners:
• The current rating of their homes against hurricane damage on a 0-100 scale.
• Up to seven ways they can improve the strength of their homes against hurricanes.
• The estimated costs to make recommended improvements.
• What their potential insurance premium savings could be if they were to make those improvements.
Inspections have been done in Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Escambia, Hillsborough, Indian River, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, St. Lucie and Walton counties over the last eight weeks.
In partnership with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the My Safe Florida Home program held six training sessions for inspectors and 12 training sessions for contractors interested in doing mitigation improvements. The program currently has an estimated 560 specifically trained, qualified inspectors who have also undergone drug tests and background checks to conduct free home inspections for the program.
Over 600 contractors who have applied to participate in the My Safe Florida Home program are currently being reviewed to verify licensure and that current workers’ compensation insurance coverage is in place.
The My Safe Florida Home program has partnered with 12 non-profit entities to serve as many as 4,000 low-income homeowners in 10 counties. To achieve this, the program has partnered with Volunteer Florida Foundation.
“We are on track to provide free home inspections to another 40,000 Floridians in the coming months, and are excited to proactively help homeowners strengthen their homes and better protect their families against catastrophic storms,” Gallagher said.
Applying and obtaining a free home inspection is just the first step of the program. Homeowners who undergo a My Safe Florida Home inspection may also qualify for matching grants of up to $5,000 to fortify their homes. As directed by the new law to reduce hurricane exposure and property losses in Florida, grants will be prioritized and awarded to homeowners who live in high-risk, hurricane-vulnerable areas of the state.
Floridians eligible for a free home inspection 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.
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