HUD approves $616 million Florida disaster recovery plan
SAN JUAN – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has approved a disaster recovery plan to help Floridians recover from Hurricane Irma. In November, HUD allocated $616 million to support long-term recovery efforts in the state.
The plan is funded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program, which requires grantees to develop a “thoughtful recovery program informed by local residents,” according to the department’s release.
“It’s great news that we were able to secure critical funding from HUD that will directly benefit the families who were most affected by last year’s storms. This $616 million will enable communities to build new affordable housing and to replace homes lost in the wake of last year’s hurricane season. Through this program, we can continue to move forward with long-term affordable housing solutions for displaced families as well as provide grants to businesses who were impacted by the storm,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott was quoted saying in the release.
Several housing and economic development recovery needs arising from Hurricane Irma were identified, the release reads, listing the following programs designed to address them:
- Housing Repair Program ($273.3 million) will rehabilitate housing occupied by low- and moderate-income families that was damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will centrally manage the following activities on behalf of eligible homeowner and rental property owner applicants:
- Repairs to, reconstruction or replacement of housing units damaged by Hurricane Irma, which may include bringing the home into code compliance and mitigation against future storm impacts, including elevation.
- The completion of work to homes that have been partially repaired.
- Repairs to, or replacement of, manufactured homes impacted by Hurricane Irma.
- Temporary housing assistance based on individual household needs and their participation in the Housing Repair Program.
- Workforce Affordable Rental New Construction Program ($100 million) will facilitate the creation of affordable rental housing though a partnership with DEO and the Florida Housing Finance Corporation by leveraging CDBG-DR funds with low-income housing tax credits as well using CDBG-DR funds for zero-interest loans for smaller developments.
- Land Acquisition for Affordable Workforce Housing ($20 million) provides funding for the purchase of land for development into affordable housing, especially in areas of the state where the scarcity of developable land makes it difficult to construct properties that can be rented at an affordable rate for the community’s workforce.
- Voluntary Home Buyout Program ($75 million) encourages risk reduction through the voluntary purchase of residential properties in high flood-risk areas. Communities that participate in this program are encouraged to develop plans for the reuse of the acquired land to further reduce flood risk and/or serve as a recreational space for the public.
- Recovery Workforce Training Program ($20 million) will bolster workforce training throughout the state with the goal of growing the skilled labor force needed to support the long-term recovery, primarily in the housing construction field.
- Business Recovery Grant Program ($60 million) provides funding for eligible business owners who are seeking reimbursement for the cost of replacing equipment and inventory damaged by Hurricane Irma.
- Business Assistance to new Floridians from Puerto Rico ($6 million) provides business plan guidance, accounting services, licensing information and other resources to support assistance in assimilating to the business climate in the State of Florida.
In April, HUD also allocated an additional $791 million of CDBG-DR funding to Florida for unmet needs, infrastructure and mitigation purposes. The department said it will “shortly issue requirements governing those funds, and Florida, along with other states, will be required to submit plans addressing their use.”
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