State level officials joined locals for the kick off of the Rebuild Florida program. The first phase of Rebuild Florida is the Housing Repair Program, which will assist families to rebuild their homes that were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma. The program will distribute $616 million across the state of Florida, funds that came from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD). Rebuild Florida will be administered by the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
There are four ways for residents to begin the application process:
- Visit rebuildflorida.gov.
- Call 844-833-1010.
- Visit the Keys’ only help center on the second floor in the state building next to the Marathon Government Center, 2796 Overseas Highway. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bring identification.
- Beginning Monday, Oct. 1, the program will roll out mobile offices — buses — that travel to the most affected areas. The schedule will be on the website (above).
What sets this program apart is that it cuts out the middleman, so to speak. Residents who are eligible, and approved for the award, will have contractors and laborers sent directly to the damaged home; homeowners will not select their own contractors. It’s open to homeowners and landlords of properties that are rented at affordable rates. That includes repairs to, reconstruction or replacement of homes, including bringing the home into code compliance and providing resiliency for future storms. It also covers completion of work to homes that have been partially repaired, and repair or replacement of manufactured and mobile homes.
Mobile homes may be eligible for rehabilitation under this program. However, to be cost effective, the mobile home to be rehabilitated must be no more than 5 years old at the time of the assistance and the repair costs necessary to rehabilitate the mobile home must fall within a reasonable cost standard.
The program is designed to help the most vulnerable — the elderly, people with disabilities and families with very young children. There are also income requirements and participants must earn less than or equal to 80 percent of annual median income — in the Keys, that’s $73,500 for a family of four.
- Eligibility review
- Home damage assessment
- Environmental review
- Award determination
- Signed agreement
- Work begins