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Gallagher Announces Progress of Fortifying Florida against Hurricanes

11/30/2006

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Jeff Takacs
(850) 413-2842 
Goal to Provide Free Home Inspections to 12,000 Homeowners Met and Exceeded
 
TALLAHASSEE—Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, announced that the pilot phase of the My Safe Florida Home program ended today and his goal of completing 12,000 free home inspections by the end of this hurricane season was met and exceeded by nearly 1,000 inspections.  In addition, Gallagher said that an estimated 560 inspectors and 800 contractors have been specifically trained for the program during the pilot phase.
 
"When we launched the My Safe Florida Home program in August, my goal was to provide 12,000 free home inspections by the end of this hurricane season, and we have served nearly 13,000 homeowners," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services which administers the My Safe Florida Home program.  "Fortifying homes in Florida is our top priority and we were able to exceed our service goal thanks to the hard work and dedication of every person involved in this program. I'm proud of what they've been able to achieve." 
 
The program, funded with $250 million by the Florida Legislature, was created to better protect Floridians by strengthening their homes against hurricanes and to reduce the state's exposure to hurricane damage.
 
Since the program launched in August, the Department of Financial Services has received more than 58,000 applications statewide for free home inspections from homeowners. The free home inspections will help tell homeowners:
 
• The current rating of their homes against hurricane damage on a 0-100 scale.
• Up to seven ways they can improve the strength of their homes against hurricanes.
• The estimated costs to make recommended improvements.
• What their potential insurance premium savings could be if they were to make those improvements.
 
Inspections have been done in Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Escambia, Hillsborough, Indian River, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, St. Lucie and Walton counties over the last eight weeks.  The number of completed inspections is detailed in the attached progress report. 

Thanks to a partnership with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the My Safe Florida Home program has held six training sessions for inspectors and 12 training sessions for contractors interested in doing mitigation improvements. The program currently has an estimated 560 specifically trained, qualified inspectors who have also undergone drug tests and background checks to conduct free home inspections for the program.  Over 600 contractors who have applied to participate in the My Safe Florida Home program are currently being reviewed to verify licensure and that current workers' compensation insurance coverage is in place.
 
"Florida leads the nation in its commitment to better protecting residents from disasters and building safer communities," said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president/ceo of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.  "We won't get there overnight, but our accomplishments in the last 12 weeks are evidence that we are well on our way."
To leverage resources through local programs, the My Safe Florida Home program has partnered with 12 non-profit entities to serve as many as 4,000 low-income homeowners in 10 counties. To achieve this, the program has partnered with Volunteer Florida Foundation.
"We are on track to provide free home inspections to another 40,000 Floridians in the coming months, and are excited to proactively help homeowners strengthen their homes and better protect their families against catastrophic storms," Gallagher said.
 
Applying and obtaining a free home inspection is just the first step of the program.  Homeowners who undergo a 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.
 
Floridians eligible for a free home inspection 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 application packet.
 
 Gallagher said that the public response to this program and support for strengthening their homes has been tremendous. Nearly 100,000 Floridians have gone on-line or called to learn more about the My Safe Florida Home program.  Nearly 58,000 eligible Floridians have submitted completed applications for free home inspections.
My Safe Florida Home Program Progress Report
       
Inspections
County Inspections Completed (as of 11/29/06)

Broward 2,654
Charlotte 223
Collier 125
Escambia 218
Hillsborough 1,316
Indian River 208
Lee 710
Manatee 361
Martin 241
  Miami-Dade 2,867
Monroe 70
Palm Beach 1,623
Pinellas 1,028
Santa Rosa 102
Sarasota 485
St. Lucie 365
Walton 9
Total 12,605
   
 
Trainings Held by Date and Location
Course        Date         City
Inspector     8/21/06    Miami
Inspector     8/28/06    Dunedin
Contractor   8/29/06    St. Petersburg
Contractor   9/20/06    Ft. Lauderdale
Contractor   9/21/06    Miami
Contractor   9/25/06    Pensacola
Contractor   9/26/06    Jacksonville
Inspector     9/27/06    Jacksonville
Inspector     10/3/06    Ft. Lauderdale
Contractor   10/10/06  Orlando
Inspector     10/11/06  Orlando
Contractor   10/17/06  Tampa
Contractor   10/18/06  Fort Myers
Contractor   10/19/06  Naples
Contractor   10/20/06  Miami
Contractor   11/17/06  Orlando
Contractor   11/17/06  Orlando