The Federal Government recently appropriated funding through the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) to respond to Hurricane Irma impacts. Florida is slated to receive close to $616 million, in the first round. The funding will be administrated through the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's (DEO) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program (CDRG-DR). DEO has prepared a draft action plan for these funds.
HUD also has announced that Florida will receive an additional allocation of $791 million in the next round. It is anticipated that a portion of this funding will go to the Infrastructure Repair and Mitigation Program.
The GREAT NEWS: $90 Million has been set aside for the Florida Keys in the first round.
Unmet Needs Assessment & Community Engagement
DEO's assessment shows an unmet need from Hurricane Irma across Florida's housing sector (62.51%). It is followed by the economy (33.95%) and infrastructure (3.54%). This indicates that any program focused on housing will have a high impact on overall recovery across the state.
The unmet housing needs in Florida due to Hurricane Irma are greater than housing assistance dollars available.
The federal notice (FR-6066-N-01) requires states to primarily consider and address unmet housing needs.
To address these needs, DEO proposes the following programs, which are described in more detail below:
- Housing Repair and Replacement Program
- Workforce Affordable Rental New Construction Program
- Land Acquisition for Workforce Affordable Rental Program
- Voluntary Home Buyout Program
HUD requires DEO to define what would constitute a housing unit “not suitable for rehabilitation. DEO defines “not suitable for rehabilitation” as one of the two following definitions:
- Residential properties that have experienced repetitive losses under FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Dwellings that are considered substandard and do not meet the recovery program’s housing rehabilitation standards and/or federal, state, local code requirements shall not be deemed suitable for rehabilitation, as determined by the program and consistent with program guidelines. The determination may be established based on the calculation that the cost of rehabilitation is close to or exceeds the cost to reconstruct.
Housing Repair Program - $50 Million Keyswide
The Housing Repair Program will rehabilitate or replace single family and rental housing for low- and moderate-income families impacted by Hurricane Irma. DEO will manage and complete the construction on behalf of eligible applicants.
Through a team of agency and consultant support, the state will work with a pool of qualified contractors assigned to repair, reconstruct or replace damaged properties. Applicants will be assigned a contractor and will be required to enter into agreements with the state setting forth the terms and conditions of the program.
DEO proposes the following housing assistance activities under this program:
- 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.
- Replacement of housing units that were included in the Home Buyout Program.
- Temporary housing assistance based on individual household needs and their participation in the Housing Repair Program.
Registration for this Housing Repair Program Coming Soon: The Department of Economic Opportunity has announced that they will establish a Registration Intake Center and an online registration system for Hurricane Irma survivors to register for assistance. Stay tuned for additional information regarding opening dates in the near future.”
Workforce Affordable Rental New Construction - $20 Million Keyswide
The Workforce Affordable Rental New Construction Program will facilitate the creation of quality, resilient affordable housing units to help address the shortage of housing caused by the storms in the most impacted areas of the state.
DEO will work with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) to leverage CDBG-DR funds with low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC), with or without tax-exempt bond financing for larger multi-family developments. It also will use stand-alone CDBG-DR funds as zero-interest loans to create smaller, multi-family developments.
Funds will be awarded through a competitive process to qualified developers to support new construction and may include re-development of uninhabitable dwellings.
Land Acquisition for Affordable Workforce Housing - $10 Million Keyswide
DEO will manage a program that will provide funding to purchase land for the development of affordable housing.
This program will target areas of the state where scarcity of land increases the cost and makes it difficult to develop properties that can be rented at an affordable rate for the community’s workforce.
Monroe County is in the process of identifying vulnerable properties with owners interested in selling their impacted lands to reduce future loss. If you are interested in this program, fill out the voluntary survey Opens a New Window. if you haven't already.
Voluntary Home Buyout Program - $10 Million Keyswide
DEO will create a voluntary program to encourage risk reduction through the voluntary purchase of residential property in high flood-risk areas. The Voluntary Home Buyout Program will be a state-managed buyout program that leverages FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding, where possible.
Counties that are interested in participating will have two potential funding options for pursuing home buyouts:
- Leverage CDBG-DR funding as match for projects that are also eligible for the HMGP.
- Use stand-alone CDBG-DR funds, located in low- and moderate- income areas, to buyout residential areas in support of permanent open space, supporting green infrastructure or other floodplain management systems.
Recovery Workforce Training - No Set Aside for Keys
DEO, through its Division of Workforce Services, will utilize existing programs to bolster workforce recovery training throughout the state.
DEO’s Recovery Workforce Training Program will be focused on growing the workforce needed to support long-term recovery jobs, primarily in the housing construction field.
Business Recovery Grant Program - No Set Aside for the Keys
DEO will create a grant program for eligible business owners who are seeking reimbursement for the cost of replacing equipment and inventory damaged by Hurricane Irma.
The repayment of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans is not allowed under federal guidance for this funding and documentation of impacts from Hurricane Irma will be required. Additional guidance on the application process, eligibility and program management will be defined after approval of this action plan, and state guidance is issued on this program.
Infrastructure Repair and Mitigation Program - No Program Funding in First Round of CDBG-DR
The Federal Register Notice requires CDBG-DR recipients to consider housing needs first. DEO will focus the original CDBG-DR allocation of $616 million on addressing remaining housing and economic development unmet needs.
HUD has announced that Florida will receive an additional allocation of $791 million and it is anticipated that a portion of this funding will go to the Infrastructure Repair and Mitigation Program. DEO will work with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) to help communities to use CDBG-DR funding to leverage other funding sources such as HMGP and the 406 Public Assistance Mitigation Program.
Additional guidance will be released in the federal register on how this funding can be used by states. DEO will further define this program based on this guidance.
- September 2018: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will be opening Intake Centers to begin the registration process for the Housing Repair Program.
- Fall 2018: DEO will work with eligible entities to implement the programs that were developed in the state action plan.
For more information, visit www.floridajobs.org/CDBG-DR
Housing Repair Program - More Details
The Housing Repair Program is a grant program and requires applicants to be primary resident homeowners or
property owners of rental property as of the time of the Irma storm event (September 10, 2017). HUD’s
regulations regarding the use of grant funding for Hurricane Irma recovery state that an alternative requirement
for housing rehabilitation is assistance for second homes.
HUD is instituting an alternative requirement to the rehabilitation provisions at 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(4) as follows: Properties that served as second homes at the time of the disaster, or following the disaster, are not eligible for rehabilitation assistance or housing incentives. A second home is defined under this notice as a home that is not the primary residence of the owner, a tenant, or any occupant at the time of the storm or at the time of application for assistance.
DEO may adopt policies and procedures that provide for limited exceptions to providing assistance to a second home in order to meet specific disaster recovery needs (e.g., adding affordable housing capacity); provided however that such exceptions are developed in consultation with and approved by HUD prior to implementation. DEO can verify a primary residence using a variety of documentation including, but not limited to, voter registration cards, tax
returns, homestead exemptions, driver’s licenses and rental agreements. Additionally, seasonal, short-term and
vacation rental properties are not eligible for assistance.
DEO will implement construction methods that emphasize quality, durability, energy efficiency, sustainability,
and mold resistance. All rehabilitation, reconstruction, and new construction will be designed to incorporate
principles of sustainability, including water and energy efficiency, resilience, and mitigation against the impact of
future disasters. DEO will implement and monitor construction results to ensure the safety of residents and the
quality of homes assisted through the program. All housing units repaired or replaced must comply with the
current HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The housing assistance provided under the Housing Repair
Program will be built with emphasis on high quality, durable, sustainable, and energy efficient construction
methods and materials.
These include the following minimum standards:
- Construction standards will be based on the Florida Building Code and must meet or exceed applicable
- Construction will comply with the Green Building Standard for all new construction of residential
buildings and for all replacement of substantially damaged residential buildings (i.e., where repair costs
exceed 50 percent of replacement cost) under the Florida Green Building Coalition.
- For rehabilitation construction, the state will follow the Green Building Retrofit Checklist to the extent
applicable to the rehabilitation work undertaken, including the use of mold resistant products when
replacing surfaces such as drywall. When older or obsolete products are replaced as part of the
rehabilitation work, rehabilitation is required to use ENERGY STAR-labeled, WaterSense-labeled, or
Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated products and appliances, or other equivalent.
Properties with rehabilitation and/or elevation cost estimates that meet or exceed 75 percent of a comparable
reconstruction or replacement house as determined by standard operating procedures and policies will provide
homeowners the option to select a reconstructed or replacement house. Properties with rehabilitation and/or
elevation cost estimates that meet or exceed a comparable reconstruction or replacement house may be
required by the program may be limited to reconstruction or replacement as a more cost reasonable option and
therefore required. Housing Repair Program homeowner-occupant participants household incomes cannot
exceed 120 percent Area Median Income (AMI).
The State’s housing recovery program will have a common outreach strategy, executed by DEO in coordination with storm impacted area stakeholders including but not limited to:
- Florida Division of Emergency Management;
- Florida Housing Finance Corporation;
- Local Government Emergency Management, Housing and Community Development Departments;
- Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters;
- Other stakeholder groups identified by DEO.
Additionally, the housing program will have a single communications and branding strategy that will be
leveraged in all its communication and public outreach activities. This information will be included in the
housing program guidance developed after the approval of this plan.
Properties located in a Home Buyout Program will not be eligible for assistance under the Housing Repair
Program. Properties already enrolled in other FEMA HMGP home repair and mitigation programs and eligible for
Irma CDBG-DR assistance may only be eligible for the required matching funds subject to case by case reviews of
the HMGP project scope.
Duplication of Benefits
To prevent duplication of benefits, DEO will require that all sources (federal, State, local, private) and amounts
of disaster housing assistance received or reasonably anticipated to be received are documented with
submission of an application for CDBG-DR funding. Duplication of benefits for housing assistance will only
consider other sources of funding pertaining to structural damage caused by the hurricane.
Assistance for contents and personal items will not be considered duplication. Prior to program-related construction, applicant awardees must submit any additional funds received for housing damage caused by the presidentially-declared hurricane disaster to the State to avoid duplication of benefits. CDBG-DR funding must be the funding of last resort. Any additional funds paid to applicant awardees for the same purpose as the housing assistance award
after the State has completed the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of the applicant’s housing units must be
returned to DEO.
Recognizing that the $273 million allocated for owner-occupied housing and rental properties will likely not
address all need, at-risk and vulnerable populations with the greatest needs will be prioritized. At a minimum,
70 percent of program funds meet a low- and moderate-income national objective. Households with income
higher than 120 percent of AMI will not be eligible for this program. Households with one or more of the below
facts will be prioritized and processed in the order that they complete an application.
- Households with seniors age 65+
- Households with children age 5 or younger
- Households with special needs or special accommodation requirements (disabled)
- Low- to very-low incomes
As grant award agreements in either set of reserved funds approaches full obligation, DEO will analyze
remaining potential eligible applicant pipeline and may choose to re-allocate funds from one reserved amount
to the other or place remaining applicants on hold until priority household applicants are fully processed and
needs most realized. As program application intake production is monitored, DEO may choose to adjust the
percentage of reserved funding or re-allocate additional funding from other programs with less production to
maximize assistance for priority applicants eligible and seeking Housing Repair Program assistance.
Basis for Calculating Housing Assistance Awards
If eligible and awarded, housing assistance award calculations may be based on the following factors:
1. In order to ensure that housing assistance amounts are cost reasonable, the maximum amount of CDBG-DR
assistance available to a beneficiary under the Housing Repair Program is $150,000. In cases of demonstrable
hardship or where local housing markets warrant an increase of the cap, beneficiaries may propose an
alternative cap to DEO for review and approval. An increased cap may also be used to provide funding for
difficult or unexpected repairs above and beyond the housing caps.
2. A review of all funding received by the applicant from any source to calculate the total previous assistance
received by the applicant and to ensure no Duplication of Benefits (DOB);
3. Damage/scope of project work needed; and,
4. Reconstruction or Replacement Value
Housing assistance awards will be determined after factoring in the inputs listed above, subtracting any
duplication of benefit and qualified offsets for eligible repair estimates, and then factoring in the predetermined
program assistance maximums that apply to the housing assistance activities to be used. Funds
qualified as DOB may be required in support of the overall construction assistance provided. Awards may
include expenses for additional related costs such as green building and mitigations requirements, elevation,
insurance, ADA modifications, repair or replacement of water, sewer and utility connection needs.
Cost effective energy measures and improvements that meet local zoning and code, Decent Safe and Sanitary
(DSS) or required Housing Quality Standards (HQS), especially those improvements which add enhanced
resilience, such as elevation of major electrical components, roof strapping and other items are also eligible.
Environmental review and determined required remediation for items such as lead-based paint abatement,
asbestos abatement, or other remediation components shall also be eligible.
Elevations will be included for applicants that meet requirements determined by the program, including
substantially damaged properties as per locally approved floodplain requirements. Elevation will be evaluated
on a case by case basis. Elevations will not be conducted on properties outside of the floodplain, with the
possible exception where elevation is required by local ordinance. DEO will follow HUD guidance to ensure all
structures, defined at 44 CFR 59.1, designed principally for residential use and located in the 1 percent annual
(or 100-year) floodplain, that receive assistance for new construction, repair of substantial damage, or
substantial improvement, as defined at 24 CFR 55.2(b)(10), will be elevated with the lowest floor at least two
feet above the 1 percent annual floodplain elevation.
If located in a 100-year floodplain, the applicant will be required by federal assistance to maintain flood
insurance and notify future owners or flood insurance requirements. Federal law requires people who live in a
floodplain and previously received Federal disaster funds to repair their homes as the result of a flood to carry
flood insurance in perpetuity on that property. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Act prohibits the receipt of disaster assistance because of lack of required flood insurance; accordingly, whether
a property is subject to this requirement will be reviewed during the eligibility phase of the program.
If an applicant is eligible for program assistance, a covenant will be required to be placed on the property requiring
that flood insurance be maintained on that property in perpetuity. An award may also include assistance to pay
for up to the first two years of flood insurance premiums for eligible program applicants. Such parameters to
determine eligibility for assistance with flood insurance premiums shall be further defined in the state’s policies