Tuesday, November 7

Are We Funding Home Improvements For Rest of Florida?

My Safe Florida was expanded to every Floridian at around the same time it ran out of funding completely. Which is almost as frustrating as my take on the program below.

Back when the My Safe Florida program started, I checked it out. From what I could tell, I didn't qualify because of our home location outside of the wind-borne debris regions of the state. I ended up footing the $15,000 bill for a new roof, and I'll probably have to pay full price for new windows. However, when I visited the official My Safe Florida website, I didn't find clear eligibility requirements. In fact, the site seems to imply everyone who owns a home in a Florida can upgrade roofs and windows with the government paying 2/3 of the cost (except they're currently out of funding and have a huge waiting list). I wonder if the original map I saw is or was ever a requirement. If it is, then our taxes in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Orlando are paying for 2/3 the cost of upgrades in Miami, Tampa, and Ft. Myers that can save homeowners $1,000 on their insurance. 

Sure, my $15,000 roof would have probably been a $25,000 roof under program guidelines, but if a grant was going to pay 2/3 of that, my super-hurricane roof would have only cost me around $8,000. And I'd have a stronger roof and lower insurance. Of course, that's why there's a waiting list. I can pay $5,000 for cheap, builder-grade replacement windows in Jacksonville, while some cat in Tampa can pay $5,000 to get $15,000 ultimate storm-proof windows. And lower insurance. I just saw one website claim average homeowners insurance is the same in Tampa as Jax, which makes no sense if they are in some kind of wind-death-zone and we're not.

Since my roof was kind of an emergency (canceled insurance), I'll take the hit, but I will certainly look into the My Safe Florida option for windows. However, if what I'd initially read about the program is correct, instead of getting discounted hurricane-proof windows, I'll just be paying full price for regular windows while also helping to buy some grandma in Ft. Myers new windows for her house. If the state is going to limit a program like this, at least offer those of us not in the wind debris zones cheaper insurance or 1/3 price tickets to Disney or something.

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