Hurricane Irma Voluntary Home Buyout Program Application Deadline Extended

Aug 13, 2019

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has pushed back the application deadline for local governments in areas impacted by Hurricane Irma to apply for grant funding for a voluntary home buyout program.

Local governments, including Jacksonville and other First Coast communities, now have until October 1, 2019, to apply for grant funding through the $75 million Rebuild Florida Voluntary Home Buyout Program. The original deadline was August 15.

“Governor DeSantis remains committed to the recovery of all communities impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Ken Lawson, Executive Director of the DEO. “By extending the deadline for local governments to apply for Rebuild Florida Voluntary Home Buyout Program grant funding, DEO is giving communities impacted by Hurricane Irma every opportunity to apply for funding to reduce the impacts of future storms.”

Hurricane impacted communities eligible for assistance.
Credit Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Now communities are taking advantage and urging residents to continue applying. Clay County pushed its resident application deadline forward to September 9, 2019. Application packages and questions should be emailed to IRMA-Grants@ClayCountyGov.com.

“We hope potential applicants who were discouraged by the initial July 29 deadline, will reconsider with this extension,” said Clay County Commissioner Mike Cella. “This may be the last chance to participate in this extraordinary program.”

“It [Hurricane Irma] was an unprecedented flood event for Clay County. A lot of people were caught off guard without insurance, they still owed on their mortgages. So this just wasn't necessarily, for some people, enough assistance to get them back to whole,” said Maria Haney, Emergency Management Coordinator for Clay County. “So this is an excellent opportunity for them.”

The buyout program is designed to help reduce the impact of future disasters by reducing risk through the purchase of residential properties in high flood-risk areas. 

Scientists say as seas rise and the climate continues to change, hurricanes will become more intense as precipitation and flood risks increase in storm affected areas.

Related: As Seas Rise, Florida Will Likely Lose More Coastal Property Value Than Any Other State

“The purpose of the grant is to help victims from Hurricane Irma who have not necessarily fully recovered from the storm,” Haney said. “The target populations are those individuals that are low to moderate income and/or individuals that are repetitive flood loss properties.”

Funding can be used by local governments to buy secured contiguous lots or single properties. The money can also be used to match funding for projects that are also eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which supports post-disaster projects to mitigate future damage.

The funds will eventually be distributed throughout the 50 impacted counties. To learn more about the buyout program click here.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.