Budget conference: After brief snub, Senate agrees to $30M for condo-hardening program

colorful resort condominiums
The proposed program is part of a wave of measures lawmakers have backed after the tragic Surfside condo collapse.

Well, that didn’t take long.

After briefly offering nothing, Senate lawmakers have agreed to spend $30 million on a proposed pilot program to help condo owners strengthen their properties against seasonal storms.

House lawmakers proposed the nonrecurring expenditure Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Senate held out on committing anything to the program.

That changed Wednesday at 9 p.m., when the Legislature’s upper chamber concurred with the House’s earmark plan, offering the full $30 million to the My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program.

Release of the money from the state general revenue fund is contingent on legislation authorizing the program (SB 1366, HB 1029) passing. Both versions of the measure await floor votes in their respective chambers after clearing three committee stops each without a single “no” vote.

The condo-focused pilot would be an offshoot of My Safe Florida Home, a 17-year-old home-hardening grant program lawmakers resurrected in 2022 and have since apportioned $433 million for roof-, door- and window-improving projects.

It was a priority of CFO Jimmy Patronis, who called it a “win-win-win” during a May 2023 press conference in Doral because it reinforces property, which can lead to reduced insurance premiums, and Florida has nixed sales taxes on impact-resistant doors, garage doors and windows through June 30, 2024.

The condo program would provide homeowners associations within 15 miles of the coastline with hurricane-mitigation inspections and guidance on their eligibility for grants to improve their roofs and entrances.

For every $1 the condo association spends on the project, the state would spend $2. The state would also cover up to half the cost of roof-related projects and up to $1,500 per unit for doors and windows. Grants would be capped at $175,000 per condo association.

Parkland Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky and Miami Republican Rep. Vicki Lopez sponsored HB 1029. St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Nick DiCeglie is carrying SB 1366.

‘I am grateful to the Senate for providing funding for the My Safe Florida condo pilot program,” Lopez told Florida Politics. “This program will finally include condo owners in the My Safe Florida program. They, too, deserve to harden, their buildings in an attempt to reduce their insurance premiums. I am looking forward to the implementation of this program and learning more about how it can benefit condo owners.”

The bills are part of a wave of legislation lawmakers filed following the June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside that killed 98 people.

Others include a measure Lopez is backing with Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley to broaden condo board oversight and accountability and a controversial proposal by Miami Springs Republican Sen. Bryan Ávila and North Fort Myers Republican Rep. Spencer Roach that would allow the owners of locally designated historic structures to demolish and replace them with bigger, denser buildings that meet modern safety strictures.

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

    February 29, 2024 at 8:05 am

    Obviously a lot of lawmakers around Florida own condos from the same construction era as Surfside

Comments are closed.


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