Senate passes bill making changes to home hardening grant program
Jim Boyd.

'We’ve restricted the program where it’s enough, so it’s more needs-based than it was before.'

A program aimed at paying for wind and storm mitigation upgrades to homes would be reworked to prioritize low-income homeowners under a bill that passed unanimously off the Senate floor.

“This is something that I think this Legislature has done a very good job on,” said Sen. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican sponsoring SB 7028. “It’s hardening homes and it’s saving people money on their premiums.”

Under the bill, homeowners who are at least 60 years old and are low-income, defined as 20% below the median income in the state or local area, would get first priority to have the Department of Financial Services (DFS) review and approve their applications for the My Safe Florida Home program. The applications are for home inspections to see which improvements fit a particular home.

Next in line would be all other low-income residents, then moderate-income residents over 60 years old, then all other moderate-income homeowners, then everyone else.

The bill sets aside $100 million for the grants for the next fiscal year, and $7 million for DFS to administer the program.

Sen. Doug Broxson, a Pensacola Republican and the chamber’s top budget writer, said the new parameters on processing applications means the $107 million is sufficient for the program, even though lawmakers have poured $433 million into the program since 2022.

“We’ve restricted the program where it’s enough, so it’s more needs-based than it was before,” Broxson said.

Broxson also acknowledged the Senate will have to work out the final funding for program with the House in formal budget talks. The House bill (HB 1263) also contains $107 million, but the House’s main budget (HB 5001) includes $225.8 million for the program, while the Senate relies on the bill’s $107 million for its total funding.

The House is also pushing for a pilot project to expand the program to condominiums, including $600,000 in its budget for the venture, and while the Senate has advanced a similar bill it doesn’t include funding for it in its budget.

Gray Rohrer

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