A program established to provide free tools and resources to owners of affordable housing properties looking to protect against the threat of climate change and natural disasters tripled its reach Thursday.
Keep Safe Florida will now operate in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa Bay areas. Homeowners in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties around Miami; Orange, Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties near Orlando; and the Tampa Bay counties of Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties can now take advantage of the program.
“Protecting, preserving and providing more housing for residents is both a critical need and a critical focus for our city,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “As we respond to a changing climate and continually seek ways to make our community more sustainable, healthier and more equitable, the Keep Safe Florida program will be a valuable tool to increase resilience and safety for residents.”
The 2022 Hurricane Season is predicted to be another year of above-average tropical activity. As the Florida Legislature gears for a Special Session focused on property insurance, experts warn the state is headed for a threatening cocktail consisting of a fractured home insurance industry, rising threats from climate change and sea level rise and the second-highest population growth in the country.
“Floridians know all too well the destruction caused by major hurricanes and other climate events, and lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color are on the front lines of the climate crisis,” Jacqueline Waggoner, president of Enterprise Community Partners’ solutions division, said. “Housing providers must take steps to protect lives and homes before the next storm hits.”
Keep Safe Florida launched last year in Miami as a pilot program from Enterprise and Truist Charitable Fund. That partnership has grown to include the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the Florida Housing Coalition and the Institute for Building Technology and Safety. In the first year, Keep Safe helped 45 owners and operators of affordable housing properties access free property assessments and resilience resources.
Enterprise expects to help 150 between the three regions over the next year. Some of the assistance available through the program includes helping owners and operators understand which properties face the highest risk of damage from natural hazards; identifying strategies for high-risk properties and providing resources and recommendations to reduce the potential harm properties and residents face from storms and other disasters; along with providing information to multifamily housing owners and managers about the resources available to help implement resilience strategies.
“The TBRPC and local governments across the region are defining how extreme weather and future sea level rise will impact our communities, and specifically the affordable housing stock,” St. Petersburg City Council Member and TBRPC chair Brandi Gabbard said. “With the Keep Safe Florida tools and technical support, our region will move to the next level by working with building owners and managers to evaluate 50 properties and sites.”
Anyone interested can check out Keep Safe Florida online.