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Just what improvements qualify for Florida's $10,000 home-hardening grant? Answers aren't always easy to find

Ron Hurtibise, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Home and Consumer News

As early applicants to a Florida state-funded home improvement program analyze their wind-mitigation inspection reports, some say they are confused about what home-hardening improvements will be eligible for up to $10,000 in $2-to-$1 matching grant funds.

Under the My Safe Florida Home program, will an entire roof replacement be eligible for reimbursement if their inspection report says that their roof covering complies with current wind codes but there’s no evidence that they have a Secondary Water Resistance barrier — which would require installing a new roof to obtain?

Can they get reimbursed for installing impact windows if they already receive an insurance discount for aluminum shutters?

Some applicants report limited success in securing answers from the program to questions about those two commonly sought home-hardening improvements.

There’s still ample opportunity to apply by going to mysafeflhome.com or calling 1-866-513-6734.

As of Thursday, 22,252 homeowners have registered for the program and 8,125 inspections have been completed, according to program data. Of applicants with completed inspections, 1,301 have applied for grant eligibility, and 792 have been approved.

 

The $150 million program was approved by lawmakers last May to help homeowners reduce their insurance premiums. Eligible improvements are limited to windstorm-mitigation features that require insurers to provide premium discounts. The program is only open to owners of homesteaded site-built single-family homes with insurance coverage and replaceable value of $500,000 or less.

According to a news release announcing the opening of the program in November, the department expects completing 140,000 to 145,000 free windstorm mitigation inspections to help homeowners identify what they can do to qualify for insurance discounts.

It expects to provide 11,000 to 12,000 grants from the $115 million earmarked for reimbursements. Homeowners who spend up to $5,000 on eligible upgrades will be eligible for up to $10,000. If all grants are awarded for the $10,000 maximum, 11,500 applicants would get money.

Informational materials offered by the program do not discuss grant eligibility for specific improvements. Instead, they focus on which wind-mitigation features will qualify applicants for discounts off their insurance costs.

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