Fla. homeowners can now apply by phone to the My Safe Florida Home program for up to $10K to improve and strengthen roofs, windows and exterior doors.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida homeowners with no internet access or limited patience to navigate online application portals may now apply by phone for up to $10,000 toward home-hardening improvements.

The state-funded My Safe Florida Home program has made $115 million available for homeowners who want to improve their home’s chances of avoiding damage during hurricanes or tropical storms by strengthening their roof, windows, and exterior doors.

Now applicants can call 1-866-513-6734 and ask to apply for the program by phone. You’ll be transferred to an intake counselor who will walk you through the process.

The program offers a generous $2-for-$1 grant: For every dollar the homeowner spends, the program will provide $2, up to a maximum of $10,000. In other words, a homeowner would only be required to spend $5,000 on projects worth up to $15,000.

No phone number was announced when the state-funded program opened its website for applications on Nov. 18. Numerous callers to the South Florida Sun Sentinel said they were unable to apply.

“I’m a veteran, 95 years old, and I would like to take part in this My Safe Florida Program,” one caller said, “but I can’t do it because I live by myself and I don’t know how to go around with the computer.”

Applicants who are comfortable applying online can access the portal at mysafeflhome.com and click the Apply Now button at the top of the webpage. First-time users will be prompted to create an account, then taken to a page where you will enter your email address and newly created password. From there, you will be taken to another page where you will find a link that says, “Click here to start a new application.”

Click on the links on the new page to find required forms, and a “Documents” link to upload proof that your home is homesteaded and has an insurable value of $500,000 or less.

After completing the forms, applicants will be contacted by email or phone to schedule the required windstorm mitigation inspection.

The inspection will identify which improvements can be made to your home that qualify for the $2-for-$1 matching grant.

After receiving an inspection report, homeowners will be able to identify improvements they would like to make. Later, applicants will be invited to submit a second application for the grant and be given a list of approved contractors.

The program can also be accessed from the Florida Chief Financial Officer’s website. Go to myfloridacfo.com/mysafeflhome and click the button that says, “Program Now Live.”

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the program:

How many homeowners will actually get grants? Program officials estimate that between 11,000 and 12,000 homeowners will qualify. If every qualified applicant gets the full $10,000 grant, the $115 million will fund 11,500 grants.

What types of homes are eligible for the grant? Only standalone single-family houses with insured values of less than $500,000 are eligible. Applicants must provide proof of insured value and homestead exemption. The initial building permit for the home must have been issued prior to Jan. 1, 2008. If you are unsure when your permit was issued, you can get this information by calling your local property appraiser or searching the property appraiser’s website.

Can the home be anywhere in Florida? No, eligibility is restricted to homes located within the “wind-borne debris region” as defined in the Florida Building Code. That’s a U-shaped region of the state that covers all of southern Florida, the Panhandle and much of the remaining coastlines. It excludes many northern and central counties.

Are condos and townhouses eligible? No, only standalone single-family houses.

What if I don’t carry homeowner insurance? Uninsured homes may be eligible if the applicant can provide proof that their insurable value is $500,000 or less. Reach out to the program via the customer service number for further instructions.

I’ve recently installed impact windows or other improvements on the list. Can I get a grant to offset what I’ve already spent? No. Improvements that are already completed or in progress are not eligible.

Copyright © 2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Author: marlam