- The grants program from My Safe Florida Homes is on hold, pending more funding
- My Safe Florida Homes still offers free wind-mitiration home inspections
- A special session of the Florida Legislature in November is expected to address the program’s funding
On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill passed during a special legislative session this month providing hurricane relief for rural areas hit by Hurricane Idalia, which also included $176.17 million in funding for the My Safe Florida Home program and another $5.3 million for administrative costs.
This is great news for the 17,6000 applicants still waiting for financial help hardening their homes against hurricane damage. The previous additional $100 million in grant money added on July 1 ran out in October, leaving some approved people hanging. It’s not great news for people needing help who didn’t get an application in before Oct. 15.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is the My Safe Florida Home program?
The My Safe Florida Home Program, originally started in 2006 and brought back during a 2022 legislative special session on the state’s insurance crisis, provides qualifying Florida homeowners with free home inspections for wind mitigation and awards grants to go toward hardening homes against storms and bringing them up to the latest building standards.
The inspection alone can help save homeowners money on their insurance premiums by documenting common wind-damage mitigation features such as roofing materials, storm shutters, secure attachments for walls and roofs, and more.
Homeowners who had received a wind mitigation inspection could also apply for matching grant funds to help pay for recommended improvements, with the state matching every dollar the homeowners spent with $2, up to a cap of $10,000.
How much money was allocated to the My Safe Florida Home program?
The program has received $215 million in funding since it was relaunched last year, with an initial $115 million and an additional $100 million added to the state’s fiscal 2023-2024 budget.
That money ran out in October, but in November 2023 the Florida Legislature unanimously approved funding of $176.17 million to keep it going. DeSantis signed the bill on Nov. 13.
If I applied for the My Safe Florida Home program but haven’t received funding, what happens next?
If your application status in the application portal is labeled “submitted,” your application will remain on hold until the funding is made available and the agency begins processing grants again. Grant applications will be approved in the same order they were received.
The new funding is restricted to applications that were submitted on or before Oct. 15 and blocks the Florida Department of Financial Services which oversees the program from accepting new applications or creating a waitlist.
If you have completed a home inspection but not submitted a grant application you will need to wait until funding is acquired and the grant application portal is reopened.
When will additional funds for My Safe Florida Home be available?
The My Safe Florida Home program has yet to announce a date to begin reviewing applications again.
How much do people save on their insurance after receiving My Safe Florida Home grants?
Of the homeowners who have received grants, completed improvements and disclosed their insurance premium discounts, they report an average savings of $1,014 per year, the News Service of Florida said.
How many people have used the My Safe Florida Home program?
According to the News Service of Florida, as of Oct. 23:
- 20,926 My Safe Florida Home grants have been approved
- $209 million has been earmarked for homeowners in various stages of home improvement completion
- 17,617 grant applications are considered “approved” or awaiting funding
- 84,707 homes have been inspected, 12,419 homes are awaiting inspection
- $25.7 million has been reimbursed to 2,881 homeowners so far
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What are homeowners who received My Safe Florida Home grants upgrading?
According to MSFH:
- 46% upgraded their roof covering and water barrier to code
- 27% added impact-resistant windows and doors
- 18% adding or improving roof-to-deck attachments
- 9% adding or improving roof-to-wall connections
When can I apply for a My Safe Florida Home grant?
Not yet. According to the My Safe Florida Home website, applications for grants have been paused. The new funding is earmarked for applications submitted on or before Oct. 15, 2023. New appropriations would need to be passed by the Florida Legislature for any new grant applications to be approved.
“Currently, the number of grant applications submitted already exceeds the available funding allocated,” the site’s Oct. 19 update stated, therefore we are not accepting new applications for grants at this time.
Can I still apply for a free My Safe Florida Home wind mitigation inspection without a grant?
Yes. Anyone who owns a site-built, single-family residential house or townhouse can apply for and receive an inspection. Applying for a grant is not required and MySafe Florida Home will continue to process applications for home inspections. You can apply for a free wind mitigation inspection here.
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When it opens up again, who is eligible for a My Safe Florida Home grant?
Once funding is approved and the grant application portal is reopened, homeowners who have received a wind mitigation inspection will be able to apply for a matching grant if they meet the following criteria:
- They must provide proof of homestead exemption.
- The home must be insured, to a maximum of $700,000.
- The building permit of the home must have been issued before Jan. 1, 2008.
- The homeowner must allow the home to be reinspected after the work is completed.
As of July 1, townhouses were included and the requirement that the home must be in the wind-borne debris region of the state was removed.
Are there any other financial incentives to harden my home against hurricanes?
From July 1, 2022 until June 30, 2024, the Florida Legislature has dropped sales taxes on purchases of impact-resistant doors, garage doors and windows.
Contributors: Douglas Soule, USA TODAY Network-Florida; Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida; Brandon Girod, Pensacola News-Journal