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Gallagher Announces Partnership with Pinellas Non-profit to Strengthen Homes against Hurricanes

10/3/2006

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Jeff Takacs
(850) 413-2842 

75 Low-Income Homeowners to be Served in Pinellas
 
TALLAHASSEE—Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today that 75 low-income homeowners will soon be safer from hurricanes thanks to a new partnership between Homes for Independence and the My Safe Florida Home program.  Through the partnership, homeowners will receive  free home inspections and assistance to make improvements that will strengthen homes against catastrophic losses.
 
 "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, Homes for Independence is teaming up with the My Safe Florida Home program to fortify the homes of up to 75 low-income homeowners in Pinellas County.  My Safe Florida Home is matching over $185,000 with the resources of the Homes for Independence.  A homeowner can earn no more than 80 percent of the Annual Median Income (AMI) to qualify for this assistance.   AMI varies by county.
 
"Homes for Independence is proud to be part of the roll out on this innovative partnership.  We are confident it will complement our existing programs nicely, as well as be a tremendous benefit to the community. I see a tremendous need and my congratulations to the State for recognizing this and acting on it!  We are all very excited to be part of the My Safe Florida Home program," said Lori Kreisle, vice-president of Homes for Independence.
 
Participating homeowners will receive free home inspections to determine what improvements can be made to strengthen their homes against hurricane damage.  Following an inspection, homeowners will receive assistance to make recommended improvements.
 
"In our long-term recovery work following the last two hurricane seasons, we at the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund have learned the enormous value of partnering with community and faith-based groups, organizations that know their communities and are effective partners in accomplishing important tasks," 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 to ensure Florida's low-income residents get the help they need to strengthen their homes."
 
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 applications in the mail 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