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Volusia County seeks applicants for Hurricane Housing Recovery Program funds

In Volusia County, the Chases on the Beach deck did not survive a storm surge during Hurricane Nicole. Volusia was one of the hardest hit counties by this storm.
Joe Mario Pedersen
/
WMFE
In Volusia County, the Chases on the Beach deck did not survive a storm surge during Hurricane Nicole. Volusia was one of the hardest hit counties by this storm in the state of Florida.

Volusia County will start accepting applications Tuesday for new state funding allocated for homeowners who still need help repairing their homes from last year’s hurricane damages.

The Hurricane Housing Recovery Program is a one-time program specifically for households that were affected by Hurricane Ian or Nicole and have exhausted other options.

Carmen Hall, community assistance director for Volusia County, said the county is expecting about $2.8 million dollars. She said the program is meant for those who need assistance.

“We're really looking for homeowners that need assistance to continue maintaining their residence. We’re also looking at area median income. All of our funding must go to households that are at 120% of area median income or below, but primarily to those that are at 80% of area median income and below,” Hall said.

How the HHRP works

Hall said that while it is not a prerequisite to have gone through FEMA first, the county is expecting that most applicants will be Volusia County residents who were either denied private insurance and FEMA claims, or those who were awarded an insufficient number of funds to foot repairs.

Either way, Hall said the HHRP application process will ask about prior sources of funding and previous claims to ensure they are not “duplicating benefits.”

“This program is really for those households — they've applied for insurance, maybe they were denied, maybe it didn't cover the full cost of their repairs. They've gone through FEMA, they've received assistance, or maybe they didn't receive assistance, but it didn't cover the full cost of their repairs, and so their home is still damaged,” Hall said. “It's really one of those last options to kind of help fill that gap to make sure that these houses are repaired, ensure our families are able to continue to reside in them, and maintain our affordable housing stock.”

An eligible household may receive up to $91,000 in owner-occupied rehabilitation assistance, and assistance through this program is provided as a secured loan.

According to Hall, it makes no qualifying difference whether the damages make the house habitable or not, but there are some thresholds.

Applicants must be Volusia County residents who owned and lived in the affected homes at the time of the damages. The homes must also be site-built or manufactured no earlier than 1994.

There are also two exceptions for HHRP funds within the city limits of Deltona and Daytona Beach because those cities have access to similar resources, and these grant funds fall outside of those jurisdictions, Hall said.

She said the county is currently pre-screening anyone interested, but applications will be available on the county’s website, as soon as they officially open.

There is also SHIP

Hall said the county is also required to advertise funding made available through the State Housing Initiatives Program, or SHIP.

SHIP has allocated funding in the amount of $4.6 million for homeownership counseling, homebuyer assistance, emergency repairs, wind hazard mitigation, homeowner housing construction, disaster, owner occupied rehabilitation, demolition and reconstruction, multi-family rental housing construction, and program administration. This includes assistance for first-time homebuyers. “The main point of the grant funding is that it's a resource to create, preserve, and expand affordable housing options in Volusia County,” Hall said. “We run a lot of our standard programs out of this funding.”

Hall said SHIP grant funds are a regular allocation, received by Volusia County on an annual basis, and applications are open year round.

Help from the Feds

Aside from these two avenues of state funding, the county also counts on federal funds.

The program is called Transform386, and it is being administered by the county's Office of Recovery and Resiliency. Unlike HHRP and SHIP, they do not fall under the Community Assistance Division.

Pat Kuehn, community information specialist for the county, said in an email that a portion of the $328.9 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds Volusia County received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been allocated to address housing.

“Homeowners who had their homes damaged by Hurricane Ian can now apply for assistance to complete storm-related repairs or reimbursement for expenses incurred for already made repairs.” Kuehn said. “This program is not a loan.”

Volusia County residents who are interested in Transform386 can complete an application or learn more about the program, eligibility, documentation requirements, including watching a video tutorial the county’s website. Kuehn said they can also call 386-943-7029 or email transform386@volusia.org with questions or concerns.

Lillian Hernández Caraballo is a Report for America corps member.

Lillian (Lilly) Hernández Caraballo is a bilingual, multimedia journalist covering housing and homelessness for WMFE, as a Report for America corps member.
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