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

10/3/2006

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

1,000 Low-Income Homeowners in Escambia and Santa Rosa to be Served
 
PENSACOLA— At a home today in Pensacola, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that 1,000 low-income homeowners like Mr. Larry Paulk will soon be safer from hurricanes thanks to a new partnership between Rebuild Northwest Florida and the My Safe Florida Home program.  Through the partnership, Mr Paulk and others eligible will receive a free home inspection and assistance to make improvements to strengthen their homes against hurricane damage.
 
"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, Rebuild Northwest Florida is teaming up with the My Safe Florida Home program to fortify low-income homes.  A homeowner can earn no more than 80 percent of the Annual Median Income (AMI) to qualify for this assistance.  AMI varies by county.
 
"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 Representative Holly Benson, who represents Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.  "Hundreds of homeowners in our community will be better protected in the face of a hurricane through this program."
 
An estimated $1.5 million will be matched with services and funding through Rebuild Northwest Florida.  In turn, the non-profit will serve up to 1,000 homes in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.  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 financial and labor assistance to make recommended improvements.
 
"This partnership will help us strengthen the homes of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties as we rebuild homes that have been damaged by Hurricane Ivan," said Miles Anderson, executive director of Rebuild Northwest Florida.  "By partnering with the My Safe Florida Home program, we hope to reduce the amount of losses our community would suffer if a storm were to hit us again."
 
On a statewide basis, 12 non-profit organizations have partnered with My Safe Florida Home and Volunteer Florida to serve more than 4,000 low-income Floridians living in Broward, Escambia, Glades, Hendry, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Santa Rosa and St. Lucie counties.  My Safe Florida Home is matching $8.1 million with the resources of these 12 organizations.
 
"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.
 
In addition to directly serving Floridians through the department, Gallagher is partnering with non-profit organizations and local governments to deliver services and to strengthen homes.
To learn more about the My Safe Florida Home program, visit www.mysafefloridahome.com