The state will make available a new round of loans for victims of Hurricane Michael next month, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.
Last year, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation started the Hurricane Michael Recovery Loan Program. But this year’s program, beginning Sept. 1, is twice as big, totaling $10 million and able to help more than 660 families.
Beyond Northwest Florida, DeSantis said the storm “almost seemed like it had fallen off the radar” in the three months between when it made landfall in October 2018 and his inauguration. But rebuilding after a powerful storm is a multi-year process, he insisted.
“These storms come and then they go, but the damage they leave behind takes time to rebuild,” the Governor said. “And when you have a Category 5 storm like we had with Hurricane Michael, that takes years and years of support.”
Those affected by Michael in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties who make less than 140% of the area’s median income are eligible for a $15,000, zero-interest loan to purchase a new home.
For five years, 20% of the loan is interest free each year. The loan is “completely forgiven” for active duty service members who are reassigned to a different location partway through the loan.
Bay County is the place to live because of the value to faith, family and children’s futures, the Governor said.
“You look around the counties and you see some of these communities just totally self-destructing, no rule of law, a lot of problems,” DeSantis added. “You’re not going to have that here in Bay County. They respect the rule of law, they support law enforcement because they understand that’s integral to a successful community.”
Last year’s $5 million loan program helped 335 families. DeSantis credited Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Jay Trumbull with securing double the funds this year.
The program survived the Governor’s $1 billion budget cut in late June after the COVID-19 pandemic forced historic vetoes.