GALLAGHER KICKS OFF $250
MILLION PROGRAM TO HELP FORTIFY FLORIDA AGAINST HURRICANES
Goal is 12,000 homes in 12 weeks; 50,000 over the next year
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, kicked off
the My Safe Florida Home program, a $250 million mitigation program to help
Floridians strengthen their homes against hurricanes and to reduce property
losses in Florida. Gallagher said eligible Floridians can
now apply for a free home inspection and professional recommendations on how to
improve their homes’ ability to withstand a hurricane. Gallagher said that
as many as 50,000 Florida households will be served over the next year
through this program.
It has been a priority for the Department of Financial Services to get the
My Safe Florida Home program up and running as quickly as possible. Since
the new law went into effect on July 1, the Department of Financial Services
remained committed to their goal to serve as many Floridians as possible
this hurricane season, by having My Safe Florida Home open for business less
than 60 days of its creation. In fact, the Department of Financial Services
has already helped more than 23,000 Floridians find out more about how they
can make their homes safer against hurricanes.
“I applaud the Florida Legislature for providing a tremendous financial
commitment to make older homes more resistant to damage caused by
hurricanes,” said Governor Jeb Bush. “With more than three months remaining
in the 2006 Hurricane Season, I thank CFO Gallagher and the Department of
Financial Services for working to quickly implement this critical program.
Fortifying Florida through mitigation efforts will ensure our economy
remains strong in the face of future hurricanes.”
“Before this hurricane season ends, my goal is to have 12,000 free home
inspections completed and grants awarded to help Floridians strengthen their
homes and better protect their families from hurricanes,” said Gallagher,
who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Fortifying homes in
Florida is a common-sense solution for the insurance crisis in our state.
Governor Bush and I are committed to building on the success of this program
and making sure every Floridian benefits by making our homes and communities
To be eligible to apply for a free home inspection, Floridians must live in
a single-family, site-built home with an insured value of $500,000 or less
and have a valid homestead exemption. Documents verifying this information
must be submitted with a completed application. Floridians can apply on-line
at www.mysafefloridahome.com or by calling 1-800-342-2762 to get an
Gallagher said that once an inspection has been done, the homeowner will
receive a report within 7 to 10 days that outlines up to seven areas that
could be improved to better protect the home against hurricanes, an estimate
of how much each of those improvements would cost, the expected savings the
homeowner would receive if the improvements were made, and a rating of the
home’s current ability to withstand hurricanes and its future ability with
The department has worked with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)
to screen and train 130 inspectors to begin work within the next two weeks.
An additional 400 inspectors are expected to complete the screening and
training required within the next 30 days.
Gallagher said that applying and obtaining a free home inspection is just
the first step of the program. Homeowners who undergo the My Safe Florida
Home inspection may also qualify for matching grants of up to $5,000 to
fortify their homes. As directed by the new law to reduce hurricane exposure
and property losses in Florida, grants will be prioritized and awarded to
homeowners who live in high-risk, hurricane-vulnerable areas of the state.
Gallagher said the department will also start screening and qualifying
contractors to perform retrofit improvements this week. Gallagher also said
that a registry of participating contractors by county and by the type of
work they perform will soon be available on-line at
www.mysafefloridahome.com or by calling the department.
“We want to help as many Floridians strengthen their homes, while making
sure that they get the best quality of work to protect their home,”
The department is partnering with city and county governments, as well as
non-profit organizations, to expand the reach of the program and to
strengthen a greater number of homes against catastrophic storms. Gallagher
said these partnerships will enable the My Safe Florida Home program to
leverage resources and maximize reach by linking with local mitigation
assistance programs already in place.