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Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program Frequently Asked Questions

General Housing Repair and Replacement Program

Q. What is the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program?

A. Rebuild Florida is a partnership of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which approved funding to local communities for Florida's long-term recovery efforts after the 2017 hurricane season. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program (HRRP) will address remaining unmet housing recovery needs through the repair, rebuild or replacement of Hurricane Irma damaged homes across the hardest-hit communities of our state. Priority funding will be offered to low-income residents who are most vulnerable, including the elderly, those with disabilities and families with children under the age of 18. For more information on Program eligibility, please see below section “Housing Repair and Replacement Program Eligibility”.

Q. When did the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement registration close?

A: The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program for Hurricane Irma stopped accepting registrations effective December 15, 2020.

Q. Will the registration closing in some way impact my previously submitted registration/application for Program assistance?

A. This will not impact you if you have previously completed a registration/application for the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program. If you would like an update on the current status of your file, please reach us at the Rebuild Florida Customer Center at 844-833-1010. Our team of Rebuild Florida representatives are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Q: I never registered for Rebuild Florida but have damage to my home from Hurricane Irma and I need assistance. What can I do?
 A. We encourage you to visit the Florida Resource Directory where you may find resources available in your community to support your Irma recovery.

Q. Is the Housing Repair and Replacement Program funded by federal monies received by the state of Florida for Hurricane Irma recovery?

A. Yes, the state of Florida has received $616 million through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) administers this funding. Of the $616 million, DEO initially allocated $273,329,800 in CDBG-DR funding for the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program (HRRP). DEO allocated $273 million for the Rebuild Florida HRRP. HUD later approved a substantial amendment to the action plan increasing the HRRP allocation to $346,186,147.

Q. Why is the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program beginning a year after Hurricane Irma?

A.Rebuild Florida is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, which focuses on long-term recovery after all other assistance has been exhausted, including private insurance and other forms of federal assistance, for example assistance through FEMA and through the U.S. Small Business Administration. HUD released guidance in the Federal Register in February of 2018 for Hurricane Irma. Once this guidance was released, DEO was required to create an action plan that included data analysis on the remaining unmet housing, business and infrastructure needs in Florida. In June 2018, HUD approved the state of Florida’s State Action Plan for Disaster Recovery. In August 2018, HUD executed the grant agreement with Florida, which allowed DEO to begin implementing the proposed plans for Rebuild Florida.

Q. What is the process to receive funding?

Please note that registration for the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program for Hurricane Irma is now closed.

 If you previously registered, and the Program determines you meet the basic eligibility criteria based on your registration submission, you will be invited to apply for assistance. At this point, the Program will require supporting documentation to verify your eligibility. To better assist you through this process, a program representative will be assigned to your file to help you through the next steps.

Q. When will funding be available? Will I receive funding directly from the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program?

A. Homeowners will not receive funds directly. Rebuild Florida will manage and complete the construction process for the repair or reconstruction of damaged homes on behalf of eligible homeowners. The Rebuild Florida team will include qualified contractors assigned to repair, reconstruct or replace damaged properties. Eligible homeowners will not select their own contractors and will not contract directly with the construction contractor. Eligible homeowners will be required to enter into an agreement with the state setting forth the terms and conditions of the program and a contract for construction services. Repairs will begin when homeowners complete the entire process and sign the contract agreement.

Q. What services will the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program provide?

A. The Rebuild Florida Repair and Replacement Program will manage and complete the construction process for the repair or reconstruction of damaged homes on behalf of eligible homeowners. With the assistance of staff and vendors, the state will work with a pool of qualified contractors assigned to repair, reconstruct or replace damaged properties. Homeowners will not select their own contractors and will not contract directly with the construction contractor. No payments will be made to the property owner directly. Homeowners will be required to enter into agreements with the state, setting forth the terms and conditions of the program.

Q. What can the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair Program provide to homeowners with extensive damage to their home or property?

A.Rebuild Florida will conduct a damage assessment of the property to determine if it is more reasonable to repair, replace or reconstruct the home. The program will determine an eligible repair estimate using information from the damage assessment. The repair estimate will be valued based on economy/standard grade materials and industry-standard labor costs. Whether the award will be for reconstruction, replacement, or repair is based on the following formula: (Repair Estimate/Reconstruction Estimate) x 100 = relative percentage of cost of repair to cost of reconstruction.

The Repair Estimate value that is used in the formula pertains only to the base repairs, absent any mitigation or resiliency measures. If the relative percentage of the base estimate is less than 75% of the reconstruction estimate, the program benefit will be repair. If the relative percentage of damage is equal to or more than 75% of the reconstruction amount, the program benefit will be reconstruction or replacement. Please see the following section below for information pertaining to mobile home replacement determination.   

Q. What can the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program do for Floridians who live in mobile homes?

A. Mobile homes may be eligible for rehabilitation under this program. However, to be cost effective, the mobile home to be rehabilitated must be no more than five years old at the time of a program damage assessment and the repair costs necessary to rehabilitate the mobile home must not exceed $15,000 (hard and soft construction costs). If rehabilitated, the mobile home must meet program standards upon completion. Replacement mobile homes will meet applicable Green Building Standards. Local zoning and code requirements will be observed by the Program.

For the purposes of the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program, a mobile home is defined as a portable residence.

Q. Can I be reimbursed for work I’ve already completed to my home or property?

A.The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program cannot use federal funds to reimburse a homeowner for work already completed to their home or property.

Housing Repair and Replacement Program Eligibility

Q. What Irma damaged counties are eligible to receive housing assistance from Rebuild Florida?

A. Rebuild Florida will prioritize and use 80 percent of the funding to address unmet needs within the following HUD-identified Most Impacted and Distressed areas:

Brevard, Broward, Clay, Collier, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, St. Lucie and Volusia counties. In addition to these counties, the following zip codes are eligible: 32091 (Bradford), 32136 (Flagler), 32068 (Clay), and 34266 (DeSoto), 32084 (St. Johns), 32771 (Seminole), 33935 and 33440 (Hendry), 33825 and 33870 (Highlands) and 33523 (Pasco).

Homeowners in the following areas, which were declared by HUD, are eligible to apply for housing assistance if further funding is available: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Union and Volusia.

 

Q. I Received an Invite to Apply. How do I complete my application?

A. You may complete your application online, here. Your Invite to Apply that was mailed to you will include your login credentials. If you have lost this letter or cannot recall your credentials, you may contact the Rebuild Florida Customer Center at 844-833-1010 where a program representative will be able to reset your password. You may also complete most of your application over the phone (with the exception of the Document Requirements section which requires you to upload supporting documentation) through the Customer Center, or visit a nearby Rebuild Florida Center for in-person assistance. Find a center near you, here. 

Q. What are the eligibility requirements for the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program?

A. The following are threshold requirements, which must be met for a homeowner to be eligible for assistance. Eligibility does not assure assistance, since a prioritization strategy will be required (consistent with program requirements) and it is expected that there will be more eligible homeowners than can be served with available funds. Threshold requirements are those that will either allow a homeowner to continue to move forward in the program or result in disqualification. The threshold criteria for the Rebuild Florida HRRP are described in more detail here:

    1. September 2017 storm damage
    2. Location of damaged property within HUD- or state-identified Most Impacted and Distressed (MID) areas
    3. At least one person on the application with an ownership interest in-part or in-whole on the property must be able to demonstrate U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency
    4. Proof of ownership at the time the disaster damage occurred and have maintained ownership
    5. Proof of occupancy at the time of the storm, September 10, 2017
    6. Damaged structure is the principal place of residence
    7. Property has unrepaired Irma-related damages
    8. Property taxes are current
    9. Property is a single-family owner-occupied structure or an owner-occupied mobile/manufactured housing unit (MHU)
    10. Property is not a second home
    11. Household is income-eligible


Q. If I received money from FEMA or my insurance company, am I still eligible for the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program?

A. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act prohibits any person from receiving federal disaster assistance funds for the same purpose as funds previously received. Duplication of Benefits (DOB) is defined as any funds available and/or received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), insurance (private or National Flood Insurance Program [NFIP]), Small Business Association (SBA) or any other funding source that was intended for home repair or replacement. Homeowners who received prior assistance may still be eligible for Program assistance but may be subject to a DOB gap fund in the event the Program is unable to verify previous funds were properly expensed for their designated purpose of home repair. For example, if we confirm an applicant received $5,000 from FEMA to repair their home, but we can only verify $4,000 was spent to repair the home – either through a Completed Repairs Estimate during the damage assessment of the home or through a receipt review from eligible proof of payment provided by the applicant – the applicants DOB gap fund would be $1,000. In order to move forward with the Program, if deemed eligible, the applicant would be required to pay the DOB gap fund to the Program prior to executing a Homeowner Grant Agreement. For more detailed information on Duplication of Benefits, we encourage you to review the Program Guidelines.

Housing Repair and Replacement Program Priorities, Requirements and Documentation

Q. How does the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program prioritize registration

A. The following criteria help the program prioritize files that should be invited to apply:

  • Households with seniors age 62 or older.
  • Households with children under the age of 18.
  • Households with special needs or special accommodation requirements, including individuals with disabilities.
  • Households with tenants displaced from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands who are permanently resettling in Florida.
  • For homeownership, the state will prioritize homeowners earning less than or equal to 80 percent Area Median Income Limits.

Q. How does Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program decide which homes and properties to repair first?

A. Rebuild Florida is committed to helping eligible Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma to repair and rebuild their homes. While each case is unique, the goal of the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair Program is to provide assistance to low-income residents, with priority given to those who are elderly, individuals with disabilities, families with children 18 and under and homes with tenants who are permanently displaced from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and have resettled in Florida. Funding will be first provided to those in the most-impacted communities.

Q. How do I know my area median income percent?

A. Area median income requirements for each county can be found here.

Q. If I am invited to complete an application, what documents will I need?

A. If you own and occupy the home that is under consideration for Program assistance, view the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program Application Document Checklist for Single-Family and Owner-Occupied Housing.

If you own but do not occupy the home that is under consideration for Program assistance, please view the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program Application Document Checklist for Small Rental Housing (Non-Owner-Occupied rental properties with four units or less).

Q. My income has changed in the last year. Should I still provide my most recent 1040 form?

A. Homeowners will need to certify whether or not their income has changed since their most recent tax return information. If there has been a change in the homeowner’s household income, the program may allow the homeowner to provide additional information such as pay stubs or other proof of income to verify the change. Documentation sufficient in this circumstance includes the last three months of paycheck stubs or signed statement from employer stating the wage and frequency of payment, most recent Social Security and pension income statements and any other income source documentation.

Housing Repair, Rebuild and Replacement Process

Q. If I am required to vacate my home during repairs, will temporary housing costs be reimbursed?

A. No, the Program cannot reimburse applicants. However, the Program may provide temporary housing assistance to applicants experiencing hardship, on a case-by-case basis .

Q. If I am required to vacate my home during repairs, will temporary housing costs be reimbursed?

A. Yes. The Program will provide temporary on-site storage for each homeowner who must remove personal belongings from his or her home during the construction period. This cost is included, where applicable, in each scope of work. If temporary storage is necessary, the assigned construction contractor will arrange for the onsite storage container to be delivered and removed. 

Q. How much input will I have into the design or repair of my home?

  • When homes are repaired and fixtures or appliances are replaced, the appliances and fixtures will be standard and purchased by the state’s implementation vendor. Certain finishings will not be allowed, for example, granite countertops or crown moldings are not included.
  • Replacement mobile homes will have standard plans, please see below chart for mobile home replacement sizes; there will be limited design option. It’s important to note that damaged mobile homes will be replaced with units that measure no smaller than 100 square feet less than program-specified dimensions. Additions or modifications to a mobile home (i.e. additional bedroom that was not a part of the original mobile home configuration) will not be included in your damaged mobile home’s square footage.
  • Replacement modular homes will also have standard plans, please see below chart for modular home replacement sizes; there will be limited design options. It’s important to note that contractors will be responsible for procuring modular home units that match the room counts and foundational depths provided below, with lengths not exceeding a variance greater than 6 feet (+/-) of program-specified dimensions.

 

Q. How are repairs and damages to my property estimated?

A. Once ownership, income and occupancy have been verified on an applicant’s file, Rebuild Florida will schedule a damage assessment of the damaged home. A damage assessor will contact you ahead of time to schedule this inspection. During the inspection, the assessor will identify repairs already completed, as well as, confirm and identify remaining repairs to the home that were attributable to Hurricane Irma. This information will be summarized into estimate reports. These reports are used to determine the total cost of repair and make the determination of whether a home can be repaired or must be reconstructed or replaced.

Q. Will funding repair parts of my home that were not damaged by Hurricane Irma?

A. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program will repair remaining damages confirmed as being caused by Hurricane Irma. However, the Program may include additional items that were not damaged by Irma if the Program determines that these items are necessary, for example, to bring the home into code compliance.

Q. Will funding repair or replace heating and cooling, electric or other home systems?

A. Damaged or non-functioning home systems may be eligible for repair if they are a direct result of damages from Hurricane Irma, are required code compliance, or are necessary to bring the home to a livable standard.

Q. What structural work can be done to the exterior of my home or property?

A. Structural work will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but may include work necessary to make the structure safe.

Q. Will you improve my home or repair it to pre-storm condition?

A. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program is intended to repair homes to a livable standard that is code compliant. Repairs may not result in a complete restoration of pre-storm condition. All materials will be a standard grade and no luxury items such as granite countertops or crown moldings are eligible.

Q. Will repairs be code compliant?

A. All repairs made to homes through the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program must be compliant with local and Florida Building Code. Homes that do not currently meet code may be brought into compliance as part of the repairs.

Q. How will repairs meet the recommended Resilient Home Construction Standard?

A. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program Resilient Home Construction Standard will be applied to all qualifying homes that have verified Hurricane Irma damages that remain an unmet need. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has selected two key mitigation measures – resilient roofing and window/door systems – to ensure Florida families not only recovery from Hurricane Irma’s impact, but are better prepared to weather future storms.

Q. Do I have to complete all repairs to my home?

A. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program Resilient Home Construction Standard will be applied to all qualifying homes that have verified Hurricane Irma damages that remain an unmet need. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has selected two key mitigation measures – resilient roofing and window/door systems – to ensure Florida families not only recovery from Hurricane Irma’s impact, but are better prepared to weather future storms.

Q. Should I continue with repairs I have already begun if I am eligible to receive Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program funding?

A. Federal rules require applicants who are seeking Rebuild Florida assistance to stop rehabilitation or construction work on their property once an application has been submitted and until the federally required environmental review is complete. Applicants must not perform any demolition, repair, or reconstruction activities after they apply to the program unless the work is temporary and is required to prevent additional damage to the home or is required to make the home safe to live in. Applicants are required to stop work because certain types of construction activities may change the condition of the property and result in environmental harm. Performing certain types of work such as permanent repair, modification, or demolition during this required “stop work” period will make an applicant ineligible to receive assistance from the program. Types of work allowed after application include: Applicants or volunteer organizations performing temporary repairs to prevent further damage to the home such as temporarily patching a leaky roof; or performing temporary repairs to allow for safe occupancy and to address health and safety hazards such as fixing a broken heater to restore heat, removing mold or repairing unsafe wiring. It is important to limit repairs to temporary measures until the program can provide a permanent solution. Applicants should follow all applicable permitting requirements when performing temporary repairs, particularly for repairs relating to electrical and plumbing work.

Q. Why does my home need to be elevated?

A. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program has an interest in protecting the investment in properties assisted with federal dollars and protecting people and their property. Therefore, federal laws set elevation standards for homes located within the floodplain. Substantially damaged homes or homes that will require substantial improvement located inside the floodplain may require elevation.

Q. How high will my home be elevated?

A. The federal elevation standard set requires the lowest occupied floor of the structure to be a minimum of two feet above the Base Flood Elevation, as defined by FEMA. It’s important to note that homeowner files are evaluated in detail to determine elevation requirements. The factors that go into a determination of whether elevation will be required or not include location of the structure inside a floodplain, local jurisdiction determination of substantial damage/substantial improvement (if available), and the benefit for which the applicant will qualify based on his or her structure type. The program will not engage in elevation activities as a standalone measure that is not connected to the repair of Irma damages.

Q. Why must I relocate to a new mobile home lot?

A. Replacement MHU relocations are limited to applicants whose damaged MHU is located on leased property and whose (1) landlord/property owner will not allow for a replacement MHU to be placed on that property or (2) leased property is in a floodplain with an elevation requiring a modular home instead of mobile home. Relocation of a replacement MHU is restricted to the installation of a replacement unit which is outside of a floodway or Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA, or “floodplain”) at an established mobile home park or other land with an existing pad and utility infrastructure within a HUD or state identified Most Impacted and Distressed areas.

Housing Repair and Replacement Insurance and Tax

Q. Why am I required to obtain and maintain flood insurance?

  • Eligible homeowners with damaged property located within the floodplain will be required by federal law to obtain and maintain flood insurance if the homeowner accepts Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program funds. If your property qualifies, the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program will provide the first year of flood insurance at no charge to the resident.
  • It is a federal requirement to maintain flood insurance when a home is located in a floodplain and federal disaster assistance is provided to repair, reconstruct or replace the home.
  • To find where your property is located, visit the FEMA Map Service Center.

Q. What if I can’t afford flood insurance?

A. The decision to accept Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program funding is a personal one. Homeowners should weigh the benefits of new or improved housing against the cost to maintain that property. This includes additional insurance costs as well as potential increased property taxes if the value of your home increases as a result of these repairs. The Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program may provide the first year of flood insurance at no charge to the resident.

Q. Will I have to pay taxes on the assistance received from the Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program?

A. If you have a question regarding repairs and improvements to your property, please contact a tax professional for guidance. When property is repaired or improved, it is possible that receiving such assistance may impact your property’s assessment and taxation. If you have questions concerning the assessment of your property, please contact your local Property Appraiser.

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