On Friday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) opened its Rebuild Florida Center in Jacksonville, offering aid to families who still need help repairing or rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Irma.
Rebuild Florida is a new statewide DEO program designed to connect eligible Floridians with federal disaster recovery assistance to help repair or rebuild homes that were damaged by Hurricane Irma. The program prioritizes the communities that were most heavily impacted by the storm and the most vulnerable individuals, including low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities and families with young children.
After Hurricane Irma hit Florida, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) identified 10 counties and four zip codes in the Sunshine State that were most impacted by the storm: Duval, Brevard, Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Polk and Volusia counties along with zip codes 32091, 32136, 32068 and 34266. Funding will go to residents in those communities first.
Friday was the launch of Jacksonville’s Rebuild Florida Center, at 215 Market St., which shares a building with Career Source.
“We believe that there are still thousands of families struggling across the state to repair their homes, and that’s exactly who this program is intended for,” said Erin Gillespie, deputy chief of staff for the Fla. DEO. “We have worked every step of the way with Jacksonville to see what resources we could bring in from the state or the federal government, and this is just another one of those resources that is launching today.”
Gillespie said that starting next week buses will start traveling around the state to those impacted communities highlighted by HUD. Case managers will be onboard to help people register on site. Gillespie said a bus schedule will be posted on the Rebuild Florida website, and they’ll let people know where the buses will be on social media pages that are being set up.
“Most of the time they’re going to be at community centers where people are used to going, either a library or a government building,” said Gillespie. “They’ll be sitting outside where folks are used to coming into their community, and make sure that we can provide that assistance and meet the needs of the people who are right there.”
According to Gillespie, residents can register for assistance at RebuildFlorida.gov. If residents need special assistance, they can go to the Rebuild Florida Center where someone will be available to help walk them through the process. Residents can also call 844-833-1010.