Funds

Lee commissioners approve SHIP funds for housing assistance

Three organizatyions in Lee County will share in nearly $4.5 million in State Housing Initiatives Partnership grant funds.

The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to award the Disaster Assistance fund agreements to nonprofit housing development organizations to assist households affected by Hurricane Ian.

The grant agreements provide funding for:

Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, Inc.

  • $2.5 million − Owner-occupied rehabilitation for a minimum of 32 low-income households.

“At this point, we know homeowners have put up the blue tarps, ripped out the drywall, and put all their water-logged belongings to the curb. What they need now is to rebuild,” said Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties CEO Becky Lucas. “We are very grateful for the continued support of the Lee County Commissioners. The $2.5 million means we can begin partnering with hurricane-impacted families and get their lives and homes stabilized.”

The Habitat Hurricane Recovery Program will focus on helping the most vulnerable homeowners recover. Families who own and live in their home, make 80 percent or less of the AMI (area median income), are current on mortgage payments (if applicable), and are current on their property taxes may qualify to partner with Habitat. Anyone interested in learning more about the program should first fill out Habitat’s Hurricane Recovery Contact Form.

The $2.5 million will help at least 32 homeowners recover from Ian, Habitat officials said.

Other funds will go to:

Lee County Housing Development Corp

  • $275,025 − Owner-occupied rehabilitation for a minimum of three households affected by Hurricane Ian with priority being given to special needs, very low and low-income households.
  • $250,000 – Mortgage and Insurance Deductible Assistance for a minimum of 15 households affected by Hurricane Ian with priority being given to special needs, very low and low-income households.
  • $500,000 – Rental Assistance for a minimum of 20 households affected by Hurricane Ian with priority being given to special needs, very low and low-income households.

Center for Independent Living Gulf Coast

  • $970,000 – Owner-occupied rehabilitation for minimum of 10 homes affected by Hurricane Ian with priority being given to special needs, very low and low-income households.

There is no requirement for the county or the applicant to provide a match for SHIP funds awarded.

Lee County has received funds since 1999 from the SHIP program for the provision of affordable housing. The SHIP program is funded by revenues collected by the state from a surcharge on documentary stamps and distributed to counties and local governments as grants. Distributions are made on a population-based formula through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, a state agency created to assist in providing a range of affordable housing opportunities.

Florida Housing Finance Corporation annually receives funding from the Legislature for the SHIP program, of which $5 million is set aside to be used in the event of a natural disaster. This year, the disaster funds have been allocated to the six counties hardest hit by Hurricane Ian. Lee County will receive more than $2 million of the annual set aside to assist eligible households whose primary residence sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Ian pay their insurance deductibles.

For residents living in unincorporated Lee County, Town of Fort Myers Beach, Village of Estero, or the Cities of Bonita Springs, Fort Myers or Sanibel, the application for assistance will be available Friday, Nov. 4, at www.leegov.com/planning/ship. For residents living in Cape Coral, email housing@capecoral.gov for information.

Other action Tuesday:

In another agenda item, commissioners voted to reallocate $205,970 previously allocated to LARC, Inc. for the rehabilitation of a residential group home on West North Shore Avenue in North Fort Myers. The structure was destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

LARC, Inc., requested their previously awarded SHIP funds be reallocated to allow replacement of the destroyed residential group home with new construction on property located at on SW 8th Place, Cape Coral. The new residential group home will house six very-low income developmentally disabled individuals.

The SHIP program is solely funded by the State and is locally governed by the strategies in the Local Housing Assistance Plan. The program places a priority on serving very low, low and special needs households.

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