Funds for home improvement grant program ‘quickly being obligated,’ state says

Thousands of Floridians applied for a state grant program that pays up to $10,000 for home-hardening improvements in the month after it received another $100 million and expanded across the state.

For Floridians with older homes, the program is a good deal: It offers $2 for every $1 spent on strengthening potential weak points that can be breached in large storms, such as roofs, windows, garage doors and exterior doors.

But it looks like all of the available funding will be earmarked to applicants before most of the newest participants will have an opportunity to be approved.

In the first month after becoming available throughout Florida, the My Safe Florida Home program accepted 16,506 new applications for inspections, according to newly released data. That brings the overall number of applicants to 79,404, including 62,898 who applied during the previous seven months when the program was restricted to homeowners in the “high velocity wind zone” in southern Florida and along the coasts.

The first iteration of the program, approved in May 2022 and launched in November, allotted $25 million for free inspections and $115 million for home hardening grants. Program organizers said last year that the funding was expected to provide $10,000 grants to 11,500 homeowners.

In May, another $100 million, enough for 10,000 more $10,000 grants, was approved by the state Legislature along with some program changes that took effect on July 1.

Together, the two funding pools should fund $10,000 grants for 21,500 homeowners.

As of Aug. 2, 15,884 applicants were approved for grants and 12,573 grant applications were pending. But there’s only enough funding for 5,616 more $10,000 grants.

Grants are approved for improvements that inspectors identify would qualify for insurance discounts. Once an applicant becomes approved for a grant, they have a year to finish and pay for improvements and submit a request for reimbursement.

“Due to an overwhelming response, the MSFH program has generated a large number of applicants,” a message on the program’s website reads. “Funds for home inspections are still available; however, grant funding is quickly being obligated.”

All grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, the notice continues. “If you want to apply for a grant, you should submit your grant application after your inspection is complete.”

The program could “overbook,” similar to how airlines work, by approving more than 5,616 additional applicants for grants.

One reason for overbooking is that not everyone approved for up to $10,000 will follow through by completing and paying for improvements and then submitting reimbursement requests.

And a number of applicants were approved during the first seven months under the “low-income” designation, which did not require a match but capped the grant at $5,000.

Also, an unknown number will spend less than $15,000 and request reimbursements of less than $10,000.

Coastal applicants still dominate

While 16,506 new applicants in a month seems like a lot, most originated from the same coastal counties that were eligible under the old rules, prior to July 1.

Homeowners in Florida’s interior counties, the data suggests, either did not get word about the program expansion — or don’t think their homes need hardening. Just three of the 20 counties that submitted the most applications in July were newly eligible landlocked counties — Orange (685 applications), Seminole (335) and Polk (231).

Broward had the largest number of applicants in July — 1,866. Broward also led all other Florida counties during the program’s first seven months and ended July with 13,662 applicants.

Palm Beach County had the second-largest eight-month total with 9,601, followed by Pinellas (7,998), Miami-Dade (5,966), Brevard (4,670), Hillsborough (4,637), Lee (3,511), Sarasota (2,923), St. Lucie (2,824), and Pasco (2,335).

The program is open to owner-occupied homes or townhouses with permits issued before July 1, 2008 that are currently insured for values of $700,000 or less.

How the process works

Applying for a free home inspection is the first of several steps homeowners must take before securing a state grant.

After their inspection is complete, applicants will receive a report identifying eligible improvements that will qualify for an insurance discount. Then they must apply to be approved for a grant. Assuming they are approved, they must select a contractor from a list of program participants (the program suggests getting quotes from three contractors, though it’s not a requirement.)

Eligible improvements include whole roof replacements if inspection reports recommend installing a secondary water barrier under the roof covering and/or strengthening roof-to-wall connections or roof-to-deck attachments.

The program will also pay for upgrades to impact-resistant windows if the home has no existing window protection like permanent or temporary shutters.

Other eligible improvements include upgrades to impact-resistant garage doors and exterior doors.

In addition to opening grant availability to the entire state, other changes that took effect on July 1 include extending eligibility to townhouses for all upgrades except roof-related improvements. Owners of homes who meet their county’s definition of low-income are now eligible for up to $10,000, rather than up to $5,000, worth of work without having to pay a match.

Participants who do not qualify as low-income homeowners must pay their contractors upfront for their projects, then apply to the program for a second inspection.

After a report of the second inspection verifying that the work was done is received by the program, participants can request their reimbursement. Requests must include the contractor’s original estimate, receipts for all payments to the contractor, and a “cover sheet” provided by the program that the contractor completes and signs.

To apply for a free home inspection and $10,000 grant, go to

By the numbers, through Aug. 2:

Applications submitted: 79,404

Inspections completed: 52,850

Grant application submitted: 28,457

Grant applications approved: 15,884

Grant applications pending reconsideration: 919

Approved requests for final (post-work) inspections: 2,764

Reimbursement requests approved: 1,135

Amount disbursed: $10,220,750

Post-work reimbursement requests pending denial: 18

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at

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