2024 Legislature                   CS for SB 7028, 1st Engrossed
    2         An act relating to the My Safe Florida Home Program;
    3         amending s. 215.5586, F.S.; revising legislative
    4         intent; specifying eligibility requirements for
    5         hurricane mitigation inspections under the program;
    6         specifying requirements for a hurricane mitigation
    7         inspection application; authorizing an applicant to
    8         submit a subsequent hurricane mitigation inspection
    9         application under certain conditions; authorizing
   10         applicants who meet specified requirements to receive
   11         a home inspection under the program without being
   12         eligible for, or applying for, a grant; specifying
   13         eligibility requirements for hurricane mitigation
   14         grants; revising application requirements for
   15         hurricane mitigation grants; authorizing an applicant
   16         to submit a subsequent hurricane mitigation grant
   17         application under certain conditions; requiring that a
   18         grant application include certain information;
   19         deleting and revising provisions relating to the
   20         selection of hurricane mitigation inspectors and
   21         contractors; deleting the requirement that matching
   22         fund grants be made available to certain entities;
   23         revising improvements that grants for eligible homes
   24         may be used for; deleting the authorization to use
   25         grants on rebuilds; requiring the Department of
   26         Financial Services to develop a process that ensures
   27         the most efficient means to collect and verify
   28         inspection applications; requiring the department to
   29         prioritize the review and approval of inspection and
   30         grant applications in a specified order; requiring the
   31         department to start accepting inspection and grant
   32         applications as specified in the act; requiring
   33         homeowners to finalize construction and make certain
   34         requests within a specified time; providing that an
   35         application is deemed abandoned under certain
   36         circumstances; authorizing the department to request
   37         certain information; providing that an application is
   38         considered withdrawn under certain circumstances;
   39         revising provisions regarding the development of
   40         brochures; requiring the Citizens Property Insurance
   41         Corporation to distribute such brochures to specified
   42         persons; providing appropriations; providing an
   43         effective date.
   45  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   47         Section 1. Section 215.5586, Florida Statutes, as amended
   48  by section 5 of chapter 2023-349, Laws of Florida, is amended to
   49  read:
   50         215.5586 My Safe Florida Home Program.—There is established
   51  within the Department of Financial Services the My Safe Florida
   52  Home Program. The department shall provide fiscal
   53  accountability, contract management, and strategic leadership
   54  for the program, consistent with this section. This section does
   55  not create an entitlement for property owners or obligate the
   56  state in any way to fund the inspection or retrofitting of
   57  residential property in this state. Implementation of this
   58  program is subject to annual legislative appropriations. It is
   59  the intent of the Legislature that, subject to the availability
   60  of funds, the My Safe Florida Home Program provide licensed
   61  inspectors to perform hurricane mitigation inspections of
   62  eligible homes for owners of site-built, single-family,
   63  residential properties and grants to eligible fund hurricane
   64  mitigation projects on those homes applicants. The department
   65  shall implement the program in such a manner that the total
   66  amount of funding requested by accepted applications, whether
   67  for inspections, grants, or other services or assistance, does
   68  not exceed the total amount of available funds. If, after
   69  applications are processed and approved, funds remain available,
   70  the department may accept applications up to the available
   71  amount. The program shall develop and implement a comprehensive
   72  and coordinated approach for hurricane damage mitigation
   73  pursuant to that may include the following requirements provided
   74  in this section.:
   76         (a) To be eligible for a hurricane mitigation inspection
   77  under the program:
   78         1.A home must be a single-family, detached residential
   79  property or a townhouse as defined in s. 481.203;
   80         2.A home must be site-built and owner-occupied; and
   81         3.The homeowner must have been granted a homestead
   82  exemption on the home under chapter 196.
   83         (b)1.An application for a hurricane mitigation inspection
   84  must contain a signed or electronically verified statement made
   85  under penalty of perjury that the applicant has submitted only
   86  one inspection application on the home or that the application
   87  is allowed under subparagraph 2., and the application must have
   88  documents attached which demonstrate that the applicant meets
   89  the requirements of paragraph (a).
   90         2.An applicant may submit a subsequent hurricane
   91  mitigation inspection application for the same home only if:
   92         a.The original hurricane mitigation inspection application
   93  has been denied or withdrawn because of errors or omissions in
   94  the application;
   95         b.The original hurricane mitigation inspection application
   96  was denied or withdrawn because the home did not meet the
   97  eligibility criteria for an inspection at the time of the
   98  previous application, and the homeowner reasonably believes the
   99  home now is eligible for an inspection; or
  100         c.The program’s eligibility requirements for an inspection
  101  have changed since the original application date, and the
  102  applicant reasonably believes the home is eligible under the new
  103  requirements.
  104         (c)An applicant meeting the requirements of paragraph (a)
  105  may receive an inspection of a home under the program without
  106  being eligible for a grant under subsection (2) or applying for
  107  such grant.
  108         (d) Licensed inspectors are to provide home inspections of
  109  eligible homes site-built, single-family, residential properties
  110  for which a homestead exemption has been granted, to determine
  111  what mitigation measures are needed, what insurance premium
  112  discounts may be available, and what improvements to existing
  113  residential properties are needed to reduce the property’s
  114  vulnerability to hurricane damage. An inspector may inspect a
  115  townhouse as defined in s. 481.203 to determine if opening
  116  protection mitigation as listed in subparagraph (2)(e)1.
  117  paragraph (2)(e) would provide improvements to mitigate
  118  hurricane damage.
  119         (e)(b) The department of Financial Services shall contract
  120  with wind certification entities to provide hurricane mitigation
  121  inspections. The inspections provided to homeowners, at a
  122  minimum, must include:
  123         1. A home inspection and report that summarizes the results
  124  and identifies recommended improvements a homeowner may take to
  125  mitigate hurricane damage.
  126         2. A range of cost estimates regarding the recommended
  127  mitigation improvements.
  128         3. Information regarding estimated premium discounts,
  129  correlated to the current mitigation features and the
  130  recommended mitigation improvements identified by the
  131  inspection.
  132         (f)(c) To qualify for selection by the department as a wind
  133  certification entity to provide hurricane mitigation
  134  inspections, the entity must, at a minimum, meet the following
  135  requirements:
  136         1. Use hurricane mitigation inspectors who are licensed or
  137  certified as:
  138         a. A building inspector under s. 468.607;
  139         b. A general, building, or residential contractor under s.
  140  489.111;
  141         c. A professional engineer under s. 471.015;
  142         d. A professional architect under s. 481.213; or
  143         e. A home inspector under s. 468.8314 and who have
  144  completed at least 3 hours of hurricane mitigation training
  145  approved by the Construction Industry Licensing Board, which
  146  training must include hurricane mitigation techniques,
  147  compliance with the uniform mitigation verification form, and
  148  completion of a proficiency exam.
  149         2. Use hurricane mitigation inspectors who also have
  150  undergone drug testing and a background screening. The
  151  department may conduct criminal record checks of inspectors used
  152  by wind certification entities. Inspectors must submit a set of
  153  fingerprints to the department for state and national criminal
  154  history checks and must pay the fingerprint processing fee set
  155  forth in s. 624.501. The fingerprints must be sent by the
  156  department to the Department of Law Enforcement and forwarded to
  157  the Federal Bureau of Investigation for processing. The results
  158  must be returned to the department for screening. The
  159  fingerprints must be taken by a law enforcement agency,
  160  designated examination center, or other department-approved
  161  entity.
  162         3. Provide a quality assurance program including a
  163  reinspection component.
  164         (d) An application for an inspection must contain a signed
  165  or electronically verified statement made under penalty of
  166  perjury that the applicant has submitted only a single
  167  application for that home.
  168         (e) The owner of a site-built, single-family, residential
  169  property or townhouse as defined in s. 481.203, for which a
  170  homestead exemption has been granted, may apply for and receive
  171  an inspection without also applying for a grant pursuant to
  172  subsection (2) and without meeting the requirements of paragraph
  173  (2)(a).
  174         (2) HURRICANE MITIGATION GRANTS.—Financial grants shall be
  175  used by homeowners to encourage single-family, site-built,
  176  owner-occupied, residential property owners to make improvements
  177  recommended by an inspection which increase resistance retrofit
  178  their properties to make them less vulnerable to hurricane
  179  damage.
  180         (a) For A homeowner is to be eligible for a hurricane
  181  mitigation grant if all of, the following criteria are must be
  182  met:
  183         1. The home must be eligible for an inspection under
  184  subsection (1) The homeowner must have been granted a homestead
  185  exemption on the home under chapter 196.
  186         2. The home must be a dwelling with an insured value of
  187  $700,000 or less. Homeowners who are low-income persons, as
  188  defined in s. 420.0004(11), are exempt from this requirement.
  189         3. The home must undergo an acceptable hurricane mitigation
  190  inspection as provided in subsection (1).
  191         4. The building permit application for initial construction
  192  of the home must have been made before January 1, 2008.
  193         5. The homeowner must agree to make his or her home
  194  available for inspection once a mitigation project is completed.
  195         6.The homeowner must agree to provide to the department
  196  information received from the homeowner’s insurer identifying
  197  the discounts realized by the homeowner because of the
  198  mitigation improvements funded through the program.
  199         (b)1. An application for a grant must contain a signed or
  200  electronically verified statement made under penalty of perjury
  201  that the applicant has submitted only one grant a single
  202  application or that the application is allowed under
  203  subparagraph 2., and the application must have attached
  204  documents attached demonstrating that the applicant meets the
  205  requirements of this paragraph (a).
  206         2.An applicant may submit a subsequent grant application
  207  if:
  208         a.The original grant application was denied or withdrawn
  209  because the application contained errors or omissions;
  210         b.The original grant application was denied or withdrawn
  211  because the home did not meet the eligibility criteria for a
  212  grant at the time of the previous application, and the homeowner
  213  reasonably believes that the home now is eligible for a grant;
  214  or
  215         c.The program’s eligibility requirements for a grant have
  216  changed since the original application date, and the applicant
  217  reasonably believes that he or she is an eligible homeowner
  218  under the new requirements.
  219         3.A grant application must include a statement from the
  220  homeowner which contains the name and state license number of
  221  the contractor that the homeowner acknowledges as the intended
  222  contractor for the mitigation work. The program must
  223  electronically verify that the contractor’s state license number
  224  is accurate and up to date before grant approval.
  225         (c)(b) All grants must be matched on the basis of $1
  226  provided by the applicant for $2 provided by the state up to a
  227  maximum state contribution of $10,000 toward the actual cost of
  228  the mitigation project, except as provided in paragraph (h).
  229         (d)(c)The program shall create a process in which
  230  contractors agree to participate and homeowners select from a
  231  list of participating contractors. All hurricane mitigation
  232  performed under the program must be based upon the securing of
  233  all required local permits and inspections and must be performed
  234  by properly licensed contractors. Hurricane mitigation
  235  inspectors qualifying for the program may also participate as
  236  mitigation contractors as long as the inspectors meet the
  237  department’s qualifications and certification requirements for
  238  mitigation contractors.
  239         (d) Matching fund grants shall also be made available to
  240  local governments and nonprofit entities for projects that will
  241  reduce hurricane damage to single-family, site-built, owner
  242  occupied, residential property. The department shall liberally
  243  construe those requirements in favor of availing the state of
  244  the opportunity to leverage funding for the My Safe Florida Home
  245  Program with other sources of funding.
  246         (e) When recommended by a hurricane mitigation inspection,
  247  grants for eligible homes may be used for the following
  248  improvements:
  249         1. Opening protection, including exterior doors, garage
  250  doors, windows, and skylights.
  251         2. Exterior doors, including garage doors.
  252         3. Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections.
  253         3.4. Improving the strength of roof-deck attachments.
  254         4.5. Secondary water resistance barrier for roof.
  255         (f) When recommended by a hurricane mitigation inspection,
  256  grants for townhouses, as defined in s. 481.203, may only be
  257  used for opening protection.
  258         (g) The department may require that improvements be made to
  259  all openings, including exterior doors, and garage doors,
  260  windows, and skylights, as a condition of reimbursing a
  261  homeowner approved for a grant. The department may adopt, by
  262  rule, the maximum grant allowances for any improvement allowable
  263  under paragraph (e) or paragraph (f) (e) or this paragraph.
  264         (g) Grants may be used on a previously inspected existing
  265  structure or on a rebuild. A rebuild is defined as a site-built,
  266  single-family dwelling under construction to replace a home that
  267  was destroyed or significantly damaged by a hurricane and deemed
  268  unlivable by a regulatory authority. The homeowner must be a
  269  low-income homeowner as defined in paragraph (h), must have had
  270  a homestead exemption for that home before the hurricane, and
  271  must be intending to rebuild the home as that homeowner’s
  272  homestead.
  273         (h) Low-income homeowners, as defined in s. 420.0004(11),
  274  who otherwise meet the applicable requirements of this
  275  subsection paragraphs (a), (c), (e), and (g) are eligible for a
  276  grant of up to $10,000 and are not required to provide a
  277  matching amount to receive the grant. The program may accept a
  278  certification directly from a low-income homeowner that the
  279  homeowner meets the requirements of s. 420.0004(11) if the
  280  homeowner provides such certification in a signed or
  281  electronically verified statement made under penalty of perjury.
  282         (i)1. The department shall develop a process that ensures
  283  the most efficient means to collect and verify inspection
  284  applications and grant applications to determine eligibility.
  285  The department and may direct hurricane mitigation inspectors to
  286  collect and verify grant application information or use the
  287  Internet or other electronic means to collect information and
  288  determine eligibility.
  289         2.The department shall prioritize the review and approval
  290  of such inspection applications and grant applications in the
  291  following order:
  292         a.First, applications from low-income persons, as defined
  293  in s. 420.0004, who are at least 60 years old;
  294         b.Second, applications from all other low-income persons,
  295  as defined in s. 420.0004;
  296         c.Third, applications from moderate-income persons, as
  297  defined in s. 420.0004, who are at least 60 years old;
  298         d.Fourth, applications from all other moderate-income
  299  persons, as defined in s. 420.0004; and
  300         e.Last, all other applications.
  301         3.The department shall start accepting inspection
  302  applications and grant applications no earlier than the
  303  effective date of a legislative appropriation funding
  304  inspections and grants, as follows:
  305         a.Initially, from applicants prioritized under sub
  306  subparagraph 2.a.;
  307         b.From applicants prioritized under sub-subparagraph 2.b.,
  308  beginning 15 days after the program initially starts accepting
  309  applications;
  310         c.From applicants prioritized under sub-subparagraph 2.c.,
  311  beginning 30 days after the program initially starts accepting
  312  applications;
  313         d.From applicants described in sub-subparagraph 2.d.,
  314  beginning 45 days after the program initially starts accepting
  315  applications; and
  316         e.From all other applicants, beginning 60 days after the
  317  program initially starts accepting applications.
  318         4.The program may accept a certification directly from a
  319  low-income homeowner or moderate-income homeowner who meets the
  320  requirements of s. 420.0004(11) or (12), respectively, if the
  321  homeowner provides such certification in a signed or
  322  electronically verified statement made under penalty of perjury.
  323         (j)A homeowner who receives a grant shall finalize
  324  construction and request a final inspection, or request an
  325  extension for an additional 6 months, within 1 year after grant
  326  approval. If a homeowner fails to comply with this paragraph,
  327  his or her application is deemed abandoned and the grant money
  328  reverts to the department.
  329         (3) REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION.—The department may request
  330  that an applicant provide additional information. An application
  331  is deemed withdrawn by the applicant if the department does not
  332  receive a response to its request for additional information
  333  within 60 days after the notification of any apparent error or
  334  omission.
  336         (a) The department may undertake a statewide multimedia
  337  public outreach and advertising campaign to inform consumers of
  338  the availability and benefits of hurricane inspections and of
  339  the safety and financial benefits of residential hurricane
  340  damage mitigation. The department may seek out and use local,
  341  state, federal, and private funds to support the campaign.
  342         (b) The program may develop brochures for distribution to
  343  Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and other licensed
  344  entities or nonprofits that work with the department to educate
  345  the public on the benefits of the program, general contractors,
  346  roofing contractors, and real estate brokers and sales
  347  associates who are licensed under part I of chapter 475 which
  348  provide information on the benefits to homeowners of residential
  349  hurricane damage mitigation. Citizens Property Insurance
  350  Corporation must is encouraged to distribute the brochure to
  351  policyholders of the corporation each year the program is
  352  funded. Contractors are encouraged to distribute the brochures
  353  to homeowners at the first meeting with a homeowner who is
  354  considering contracting for home or roof repair or contracting
  355  for the construction of a new home. Real estate brokers and
  356  sales associates are encouraged to distribute the brochure to
  357  clients before the purchase of a home. The brochures may be made
  358  available electronically.
  359         (5)(4) FUNDING.—The department may seek out and leverage
  360  local, state, federal, or private funds to enhance the financial
  361  resources of the program.
  362         (6)(5) RULES.—The department of Financial Services shall
  363  adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to govern the
  364  program; implement the provisions of this section; including
  365  rules governing hurricane mitigation inspections and grants,
  366  mitigation contractors, and training of inspectors and
  367  contractors; and carry out the duties of the department under
  368  this section.
  369         (7)(6) HURRICANE MITIGATION INSPECTOR LIST.—The department
  370  shall develop and maintain as a public record a current list of
  371  hurricane mitigation inspectors authorized to conduct hurricane
  372  mitigation inspections pursuant to this section.
  373         (8)(7) CONTRACT MANAGEMENT.—
  374         (a) The department may contract with third parties for
  375  grants management, inspection services, contractor services for
  376  low-income homeowners, information technology, educational
  377  outreach, and auditing services. Such contracts are considered
  378  direct costs of the program and are not subject to
  379  administrative cost limits. The department shall contract with
  380  providers that have a demonstrated record of successful business
  381  operations in areas directly related to the services to be
  382  provided and shall ensure the highest accountability for use of
  383  state funds, consistent with this section.
  384         (b) The department shall implement a quality assurance and
  385  reinspection program that determines whether initial inspections
  386  and home improvements are completed in a manner consistent with
  387  the intent of the program. The department may use valid random
  388  sampling in order to perform the quality assurance portion of
  389  the program.
  390         (9)(8) INTENT.—It is the intent of the Legislature that
  391  grants made to residential property owners under this section
  392  shall be considered disaster-relief assistance within the
  393  meaning of s. 139 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as
  394  amended.
  395         (10)(9) REPORTS.—The department shall make an annual report
  396  on the activities of the program that shall account for the use
  397  of state funds and indicate the number of inspections requested,
  398  the number of inspections performed, the number of grant
  399  applications received, the number and value of grants approved,
  400  and the estimated average annual amount of insurance premium
  401  discounts and total estimated annual amount of insurance premium
  402  discounts homeowners received from insurers as a result of
  403  mitigation funded through the program. The report must be
  404  delivered to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the
  405  House of Representatives by February 1 of each year.
  406         Section 2. For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the sum of $200
  407  million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the General
  408  Revenue Fund to the Department of Financial Services for the My
  409  Safe Florida Home Program. The funds shall be used for hurricane
  410  mitigation grants, hurricane mitigation inspections, and
  411  outreach and administrative costs. The department may not
  412  continue to accept applications or create a waiting list in
  413  anticipation of additional funding unless the Legislature
  414  expressly provides authority to implement such actions.
  415         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.