‘It’s a win-win-win’: Jimmy Patronis, Miami-Dade leaders laud boosted home-hardening grant program
Image via Jesse Scheckner.

Jimmy Patronis Rene Garcia Kevin Marino Cabrera Juan Carlos Bermudez Fabian Basabe Jesus Tundidor
Homeowners can get up to $10,000 toward upgrading their windows and doors with impact-resistant materials.

With hurricane season just over three weeks away, CFO Jimmy Patronis says the time is now for Floridians to start preparing and putting in place both short- and long-term protections for their homes.

In the short term, that involves going to PrepareFL.com, which he described as a “one-stop shop” for preparedness resources. For longer lasting safeguards, he said, homeowners who haven’t yet upgraded their doors and windows with impact-resistant material need to visit MySafeFLHome.com and begin registering for state grants of up to $10,000.

“Grant means free. Grant means you don’t have to pay it back,” he said at a press conference in Hialeah where he and several state and local elected officials lauded the My Safe Florida Home Program lawmakers voted unanimously to renew and expand last month.

The Legislature revived the 17-year-old program in May 2022 to help thousands of homeowners in the state’s “wind-borne debris region” access free home inspections and money to replace their windows, doors and roofs. The new iteration of the program came with a $150 million nonrecurring earmark from the state budget.

It was a smashing success, Patronis said. The state received 17,000 applicants for 10,000 slots.

This year, the program received an additional $100 million, plus a few noteworthy changes. Grants values are doubled to up to $10,000. Homes with insured values of up to $700,000 are eligible, up from $500,000. And unlike last year, applicants can come from anywhere in the state, not just storm-prone areas.

There’s more. Once a homeowner hardens their property, they can request a windstorm mitigation inspection — which the state will also pay for — in which a home inspector goes to their house, assesses its construction and protections, and submits a certified report to their insurance company.

And there’s no state sales tax (6%) on retail purchases of impact-resistant doors, garage doors and windows from through June 30, 2024.

“It’s a win-win-win,” Patronis said Tuesday. “We’re giving you money to harden your home. We’re giving you the money for that inspection, and then that report will ultimately translate — if there’s improvement noted that your carrier did not know (about) — (into) a guaranteed rebate and discount for your insurance.”

He added, “In addition to the sales tax rebate, this is the best program the state has ever rolled out in my 17 years being a public service.”

Asked what homeowners on fixed incomes or meager savings should do if they want to take advantage of the program, Patronis said those who can’t overhaul the entire structure’s entryways could speak with an impact window and door dealer who could identify the property’s primary needs. From there, cash-strapped homeowners could take out a home equity loan to cover the upfront cost.

And the time to take advantage of it is now, said Miami Beach Rep. Fabián Basabe, who noted the program is operating on a first-come, first-served basis.

“So, get those applications in,” he said, adding that he and other lawmakers “are going to be working hard to (continue the program) next year as well.”

Other speakers at the press conference included Miami-Dade County Commissioners Juan Carlos Bermudez, Kevin Marino Cabrera and René García; Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes; Hialeah Commissioner Jesus Tundidor; and Jeffrey Jackson, President and CEO of PGT Innovations, a Florida-based impact window and door company that hosted the morning event.

Florida has suffered severe hurricane-related damage in recent years as stronger storms slam into the state and move further inland than in years past. Among them: Hurricane Michael, which decimated the Panhandle in October 2018, resulting in 116,000 insurance claims totaling more than $18 billion in losses; and Hurricane Ian, which hit in September and has since gone down as the third-costliest weather disaster on record at more than $112 billion in claimed losses.

Since Ian hit, Florida has placed numerous insurers into receivership because of insolvencies. While the Legislature has worked to lower insurance rates, eliminate fraud and reduce the number of claim-related lawsuits — including dedicating two Special Sessions to the effort last year — some of the work toward fixing the issue and making Florida more hospitable to insurers starts at home, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera said.

“We know the Legislature has been doing things to try to lower insurance rates, but honestly the best thing we can do is help reduce the risk, and that’s what you can do by hardening your home,” he said. “At the very least, you’ll get mandatory credits from your insurance companies for having reduced the risk at certain levels.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 9, 2023 at 4:02 pm

    Maybe add a gun safe and a safe room while you’re at hardening your home. Rhon DasPanties is coming for you, too, just as soon as he’s done with you.

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