(The Center Square) – Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking several actions to help Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian, including planning on calling a special session in December to address property taxes and property insurance reform.
He first issued an executive order to suspend property tax deadlines for residents in 26 counties impacted by Hurricane Ian. The order covers personal homes and commercial property that were either destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
“Floridians who have lost their homes and businesses because of Hurricane Ian shouldn’t have to now worry about their property taxes,” DeSantis said. The order will provide temporary relief, he said, “until we can get the Legislature back to Tallahassee to establish more permanent solutions for property taxes, provide additional economic relief to Southwest Florida, and implement necessary reforms to the property insurance market. I look forward to working with our legislators to find innovative solutions and I am glad we have a legislature that’s ready and willing to address these issues soon.”
The order covers the counties of Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia.
DeSantis also announced he’s working with the Legislature to call a special session in December to address property tax obligations and economic relief for Southwest Florida residents. The session will also address solutions to stabilize Florida’s property insurance market and introduce more competition and policies to lower prices for consumers, he said.
The state is also providing $5 million to help Floridians who can’t afford to pay their home insurance deductibles in six of the hardest hit counties. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is administering funds through local housing partners in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, and Sarasota counties. Individuals, families, and seniors living in these counties are encouraged to contact their local State Housing Initiatives Partnership office. The SHIP program also helps with rental assistance, debris removal and/or home repairs.
“Following the impacts of Hurricane Ian, it was really important to us to make sure people were able to get back into their homes and rebuild as quickly as possible,” the governor said. “We know a lot of homeowners had coverage for the storm, however insurance deductibles are expensive and often a gap not covered by other support. These funds will immediately help families and seniors with limited means get closer to recovery.”
Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle said he and the governor met with business owners in Lee County, and “consistently heard the very real, urgent challenges that residents need help with to recover. Insurance deductibles were definitely one of the consistent points raised.” The funds were another way the state was “turning the feedback of Southwest Florida residents into action,” he said.
In addition to these actions, other resources exist to assist Floridians impacted by Ian. Displaced Floridians are encouraged to go to www.FloridaHousingSearch.org or call 1-877-428-8844 for assistance with finding an affordable rental property.
They can also apply for federal assistance to help with disaster-related expenses, including temporary lodging at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).
Those using Florida Housing’s Homeownership Loan Program may also be eligible for Disaster Relief Assistance through US Bank.
Disaster-relief mortgage deferral information is also available at Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and FHA loans.
Through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Operation Blue Roof, homeowners and permanently occupied rental properties in disaster areas can receive fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs.