Storm-proofing: Sales-tax break starts July 1, but what about the $10,000 grants?

By: - June 7, 2022 5:25 pm

Hurricane Sally made landfall near Pensacola as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 105 mph. Credit: National Hurricane Center.

Update: Late Tuesday, a webpage of FAQs about yet-to-be-implemented “My Safe Florida Home” grants was rolled out by the Florida Department of Financial Services. It is at https://myfloridacfo.com/mysafeflhome. 

Florida residents wanting to fortify their homes against storm damage this hurricane season are entitled to sales-tax exemptions starting July 1 on purchases of impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors – to securely cover openings that can buckle in strong winds.

But when consumers may apply for newly authorized “My Safe Florida Home” grants of up to $10,000 for home-hardening projects was unknown Tuesday.

The sales-tax exemption for windows and doors designed to resist storm winds will last two years, following legislative passage of a tax-cut package, House Bill 7071, that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on May 6.

The largest portion of the tax cuts — $462 million — is for “home hardening” projects that may qualify some insurance policyholders to discounted premiums. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis described the initiative as a priority for his office in the Legislature’s regular session this past winter.

In a special session on property insurance last month, lawmakers earmarked $115 million for grants of up to $10,000 for qualified homeowners to help them pay for home-hardening projects such as upgrading roofs. The grants, along with funds to help pay for home inspections, will be administered by the Department of Financial Services, run by Patronis.

Judging from the shortage of current information for consumers about the “My Safe Florida Home,” there is a lot of work to be done to get the program running.

There is no process yet for applying on the Department of Financial Services website – but there is a form to sign up for notifications. There is no up-to-date website for the “My Safe Florida Home” program, though remnants of a former such program remain online.

A spokesman for Financial Services was unable to cite a time frame for when homeowners may begin to apply for the newly authorized grants.

“The Department is working to expedite the establishment and launch of the program as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said spokesman Devin Galetta. He noted the legislation authorizes emergency rulemaking to expedite establishment of the program, but even with that, he declined to speculate how long it may take.

Here’s what has been made public about the My Safe Florida Home program:

  • Owners of single-family homes in regions most vulnerable to “wind-borne debris” valued at no more than $500,000 may qualify
  • The fund would provide $2 for each $1 dollar spent on hardening improvements, to a maximum of $10,000.
  • Building permits on those homes must precede Jan. 1, 2008.
  • The home must have had a hurricane mitigation inspection since July 1, 2008.
  • The homeowner must make the home available for inspection after the funded project is complete.
  • Applications begin: TBD.

Galetta said updates on the establishment and the launch of the program will be posted soon at www.myfloridacfo.com. For alerts, sign up here.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]

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