Florida lawmakers have proposed a $205 million expansion to the My Safe Florida Home program, aiming to improve flood mitigation through enhanced inspector qualifications and financial grants for homeowners
A pair of Republican lawmakers filed legislation on Wednesday designed to expand the My Safe Florida Home program by $205 million to mitigate flood risks.
Senate Bill 1208 and House Bill 1143, introduced by Sen. Jonathan Martin and Rep. Lindsay Cross, respectively, and carrying a $205 million appropriation, would require the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to contract with flood certification entities for mitigation inspections.
The measures also seek to redefine the qualifications for both wind and flood certification entities, providing additional regulations to ensure that inspectors possess the necessary background to evaluate flood vulnerabilities.
Cross’ bill details that under its purview, home inspectors complete a minimum of three hours of flood mitigation training, approved by the Construction Industry Licensing Board, and pass a proficiency exam.
“For flood certification entities, a home inspector must be a certified floodplain manager who has completed at least 3 hours of flood mitigation training,” read the filing, while Martin’s draft adds that “training must include, at a minimum, flood mitigation techniques, such as proper hurricane strap installation and building code requirements for secondary water barriers.”
A secondary component of the pieces of legislation involves the introduction of financial grants for homeowners to make flood-related home improvements. The grants, capped at a $10,000 contribution from the state, are intended to encourage homeowners to undertake specific enhancements to reduce flood damage, such as strengthening structural elements and raising the elevation of houses.
The bill also specifies who can receive these grants, focusing on homes with a homestead exemption and setting a limit on the insured value of these properties.
To be eligible, homeowners must have a homestead exemption, and the insured value of the home must be $700,000 or less, though low-income individuals are exempt from this requirement. For hurricane mitigation, homes must have been built before January 1, 2008, and for flood mitigation, they must be in a 100-year floodplain and have appropriate flood insurance coverage.
The state offers a matching grant system, contributing up to $10,000, with homeowners required to match $1 for every $2 provided by the state.
Upon outreach, The Office of State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said that it is still reviewing the legislation.
“The Department is currently reviewing this proposed legislation,” said Communications Director Devin Galetta. “The My Safe Florida Home program has been successful in helping Floridians harden their homes against storms and reduce insurance premiums, and the Department looks forward to continuing to work with the Legislature this session towards that goal.”
Last November, the Florida Senate approved legislation to address the existing backlog within the My Safe Florida Home Program, allocating $176 million in funding. At the time of the funding package’s ratification, the program was paused due to a growing backlog of applications exceeding 17,000, alongside a lack of funds. According to the state website, applicants whose grant status indicated “Submitted” were unable to be attended to until additional funding was appropriated by the Florida Legislature.
Reinstated in 2022 amid the ongoing rise in property insurance costs, the My Safe Florida Home Program provides free evaluations to eligible homeowners in Florida to strengthen homes against large-scale storms.
Between May 2022 and February 2023, a total of 16,724 mitigation inspections were completed and 2,979 grant applications were approved.