Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a $10 million housing loan program that may benefit hundreds of home buyers in the Florida Panhandle, that has been devastated two decades ago by Hurricane Michael.
DeSantis traveled to Panama City Monday to make the announcement.
FEMA announced on Wednesday which has approved three projects totaling nearly $5 million to the state of Florida to reimburse Mexico Beach and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for eligible costs of recovery work following Hurricane Michael which hit the Sunshine State in October.
Mexico Beach is receiving $1,775,746 reimbursement for repairs to the bridge at the Salt Creek Crossing, which offers access to the city marina, and strengthening the structure to reduce damage from future storms.
FDOT is receiving $3,209,872 for debris cleanup activities in Holmes and Washington counties. Work completed includes disposal and collection of 114,206 cubic yards of vegetative debris, including 144 stumps, 2,643 dangling limbs and 50 hazardous leaning trees which posed a danger to public health and security.
These grants are financed by FEMA’s Public Assistance program, an important source of funding for communities recovering from a declared disaster or crisis. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) operates with FEMA throughout all phases of the PA program and reviews projects prior to FEMA final approval.
Applicants work with FEMA to develop projects and scopes of work. FEMA obligates financing for jobs after final approval.
Once a project is obligated by FEMA, FDEM works closely with applicants to finalize grants and start making payments. FDEM has implemented new processes developed to ensure grant funding is provided to local communities as fast as possible.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides grants to state, tribal and local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations, such as houses of worship, so communities can easily respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies.
The program will resume in Sept. 1 and will offer 30-year fixed rate mortgages to more than 600 qualified home buyers. The no-interest down payment loans will probably be forgivable over five decades.
DeSantis said that come Sept. 1, the state will relaunch the Hurricane Michael loan recovery plan to provide residents with $15,000 loans to assist with housing costs.
The loans are forgivable as long as the borrower stays in the region for at least five years.
Officials said people who are interested should visit FloridaHousing.org and discover a participating lender. The applicant must reside in the house, meaning it can’t be used as a investment property.
The program was launched last year with $5 million which was ultimately utilized to assist 335 families. This season, $10 million was allocated for the program, enough to assist 660 families, according to DeSantis.