HUD Approves Ron DeSantis’ $633 Million Disaster Mitigation Plan

This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the state of Florida’s plan to secure more than $633 million from the federal government for disaster mitigation projects.

Back in October, pointing to hurricanes that have hit Florida in recent years, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state was pursuing funds included in the HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program.

“The damage brought by recent hurricanes has made it abundantly clear that Florida must prioritize disaster mitigation projects to better protect our communities from future disasters,” said DeSantis. “Florida has an incredible opportunity to leverage this first-of-its-kind federal mitigation funding to help our communities reduce the impacts and damage from future disasters.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) was charged with creating a State Action Plan that “will provide a high-level strategy for how the funding will be used to address eligible communities’ disaster mitigation needs” and which  “will be developed in partnership with state agencies working on resiliency efforts, as well as with input from local communities and stakeholders to determine Florida’s most critical disaster mitigation needs.”

“Since day one in office, Governor DeSantis has made it very clear that rebuilding from and making Florida more resilient to disasters is our number one priority,” said Ken Lawson, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “We’ll continue working with our local, state and federal partners to develop and finalize our State Action Plan for these critical dollars. The sooner our plan is approved, the sooner we can get these much-needed funds into the communities impacted by these storms.”

In early February, the state government submitted the plan and DeSantis called on U.S. HUD Sec. Ben Carson to approve the plan quickly.

“I am proud of the hard work my administration has put into our State Action Plan and preparing for this unique opportunity for mitigation funding,” said DeSantis in February. “I urge Secretary Ben Carson and the team at HUD to review our plan in a quick and thoughtful manner, so we can begin to allocate this much-needed funding to communities impacted by recent disasters.”

This week, DEO announced HUD approved the plan and the funds will be dispersed through Rebuild Florida.

“Through Rebuild Florida, local governments and municipalities will have access to the resources necessary to bolster their community’s resiliency to future disasters,” DEO noted.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, our agency has designed mitigation programs that will increase the resiliency of Florida’s communities,” Lawson said this week. “Through Rebuild Florida’s newly created mitigation programs, municipalities will be better equipped to make their communities stronger and more resilient to future storms.”

DEO announced it will be launching the following Rebuild Florida mitigation programs in the months to come:

Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program (Application opens – April 15) – This program will allow units of general local government (UGLG) and state agencies to harden critical buildings that serve a public safety purpose for local communities.

Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Planning Program (Application opens May 15) – To support local, regional and statewide mitigation planning efforts.

Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program (Application opens June 15) – This program will fund large scale and high impact local, multijurisdictional and regional investments that include: upgrading of water, sewer, solid waste, communications, energy, transportation, health and medical and other public infrastructure projects that will reduce hazard risks.

“According to the guidelines set by the Federal Register, at least 50 percent of the funds must be spent in HUD-designated Most Impacted and Distressed (MID) areas, with the remaining funds spent in state-designated MID areas. This federal grant program requires that funding also be used to benefit low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities, with 50 percent of the grant expended in six years and 100 percent of the funds spent in 12 years. In total, 51 Florida counties are eligible to receive CDBG-MIT funding,” DEO noted this week.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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