Volume 3 Number 40
October 2, 2006

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GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIPS WITH NON-PROFITS TO STRENGTHEN HOMES AGAINST HURRICANES

At a home today in South Miami, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that 610 low-income homeowners like Ms. Regina Hamilton will soon be safer from hurricanes thanks to a new partnership between the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, Habitat for Humanity in Miami and the My Safe Florida Home program. Through the partnership, Ms. Hamilton will receive a free home inspection and assistance to install shutters on her home to help strengthen it against catastrophic losses from a storm.

“Partnering with faith- and community-based groups to help fortify low-income homes in Florida is mission critical to protecting families and reducing property losses,” said Gallagher, who oversees the My Safe Florida Home program. “Through these partnerships, we will be able to leverage resources and help thousands of Floridians before the end of this hurricane season.”

Through the Volunteer Florida Foundation, which administers the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, four non-profit organizations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are teaming up with the My Safe Florida Home program to fortify low-income homes. The non-profits in Miami-Dade County include the Habitat for Humanity and the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation. In Broward County, the Volunteer Action Center and the Liberia Economic and Social Development Corporation will be serving eligible  homeowners. A homeowner can earn no more than 80 percent of the Annual Median Income (AMI) to qualify for this assistance. AMI varies by county.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, Inc., is a Christian ministry that builds homes in partnership with low-income families in need of a simple, decent place to live. Miami Habitat for Humanity has built and sold 560 homes throughout Miami-Dade County since incorporating in 1989. The construction of Habitat homes is made possible through donations from concerned individuals, businesses, organizations, and foundations.

“This partnership will help low-income homeowners in Miami strengthen their homes against storm damage and hopefully will result in a reduction in their homeowners insurance premiums,” said Anne Manning, Executive Director of the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami. “I thank CFO Gallagher and the My Safe Florida Home program for the opportunity to protect the families in our community by increasing the strength of Habitat homes.”

"Volunteer Broward is excited about continuing our disaster preparation, relief and recovery efforts to now include the My Safe Florida Home Mitigation program," said Dale Hirsch, Executive Director of Volunteer Broward, one of two recipient organizations in Broward County. "So many homeowners who previously were unable to afford safeguards for their home will now be able to rest assured should another devastating storm come to Broward County."

A combined $1,498,865 will be matched with services and funding through the four non-profit organizations. Together, these organizations will serve up to 610 homes in the two-county area. Participating homeowners will receive free home inspections to determine what improvements can be made to strengthen their homes against hurricane damage. Following the inspections, homeowners will receive assistance to make recommended improvements, including shutters and roof strengthening.

This afternoon at a home in Fort Pierce, CFO Gallagher announced that 1,878 low-income homeowners like Ms. Eunice Burch will soon be safer from hurricanes thanks to a new partnership between St. Lucie INTACT and the My Safe Florida Home program. Through the partnership, Ms. Burch will receive a free home inspection and assistance to make improvements that will strengthen her home against catastrophic losses.

Four non-profit organizations in Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Glades and Hendry counties are teaming up with the My Safe Florida Home program to fortify low-income homes through the Volunteer Florida Foundation. The non-profits serving eligible homeowners include We Help Community Development Corporation and the Indiantown Non-Profit Housing in Palm Beach County, St. Lucie INTACT and C.R.E.W., United Way of Lee County assisting in Glades and Hendry Counties.

“I applaud and thank the non-profit community of Florida for coming together to join us in our mission to strengthen homes in Florida against the devastating effects of storm damage,” said incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt, who represents Indian River, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. “Hundreds of homeowners in our community will be better protected in the face of a hurricane through this program.”

An estimated $4 million will be matched with services and funding through the three non-profit organizations. Together, these organizations will serve up to 1,878 homes in the four-county area. Participating homeowners will receive free home inspections to determine what improvements can be made to strengthen their homes against hurricane damage. Following the inspections, homeowners will receive assistance to make recommended improvements.

“St. Lucie INTACT is excited to be partnering with the My Safe Florida Home program,” said Al Rivett, executive director of St. Lucie INTACT. “This partnership will help low-income residents of St. Lucie County to have safe haven for their families if a storm were to hit our community.”

On a statewide basis, 12 non-profit organizations have partnered with My Safe Florida Home and Volunteer Florida Foundation to serve more than 4,000 low-income Floridians living in Broward, Escambia, Glades, Hendry, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk and St. Lucie counties. My Safe Florida Home is matching $8.1 million with the resources of these 12 organizations.

"We applaud the volunteers and community organizations, which will join us in our important work to help low-income residents strengthen their homes," said Liza McFadden, president of the Volunteer Florida Foundation. “We are honored to expand our role to include mitigation work with the Department of Financial Services.”

Funding for the partnership with non-profit organizations is possible because of a $250 million appropriation by the Florida Legislature during the 2006 Session to create the Florida Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program, now referred to as My Safe Florida Home and administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

To date, the department has received more than 53,000 completed applications from Floridians eager to have free home inspections. Nearly 5,000 inspections are currently being done in Dade, Broward and Lee counties. Gallagher said his goal is to have 12,000 inspections completed before the end of this hurricane season, November 30.

To learn more about the My Safe Florida Home program, visit www.mysafefloridahome.com. For information on the low-income portion of the program, go to www.FLAHurricaneFund.org.