Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday announced plans to provide over $60 million to help homeowners rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Ian, and took a swipe at FEMA for not kicking into the program.
Some $25 million will go to purchasing building materials which will be provided to verified non-profit organizations to make damaged homes habitable. More than 2,000 people have already applied for the aid, said DeSantis.
“What we’ve done is launch a first-of-its-kind, state-led housing initiative to provide travel trailers and recreational vehicles to impacted Floridians who may not be eligible for FEMA’s direct housing program,” DeSantis said at a morning news conference in Punta Gorda also attended by First Lady Casey DeSantis. “We also think we can do it quicker and more efficiently than FEMA.
Another $35.2 million from the Florida Disaster Fund, which Casey DeSantis set up in the days before the storm struck Florida’s Gulf Coast in last September, will fund the state’s home repair program.
FEMA has provided nearly $3 billion in federal grants, disaster loans and flood insurance payments to Florida following Hurricane Ian recovery. But when DeSantis asked the agency to chip in $25 million to help with the state initiative dubbed UniteFlorida, the agency declined, he said.
“Unfortunately, we got word last week that FEMA had denied our request for funding our state-led housing initiative, citing their ‘limited authority,'” he said. “But we’re not just gonna sit there and take no for an answer; we’re going to figure out what we can do. So that’s what we’re doing today; we want to cut through bureaucracy; we want to bring relief to impacted Floridians regardless of whether FEMA wants to be a part of that.”
Casey DeSantis said nonprofits and volunteers are providing the labor and the state and generous donors are funding the materials as the state bounces back from the devastating storm.
“This is where you really break through the bureaucracy and you maximize the dollars that are coming in,” Casey DeSantis said. “It’s not a government go at it alone, but it’s really everybody uniting for the benefit of everybody here who are affected by the hurricane.”
She said people from all over the state and nation kicked into the Florida Recovery Fund, which has taken in $57 million. The money will buy needed supplies for volunteers helping to rebuild homes, she said.
“When these people are coming from all over the country, from Colorado and Washington state to volunteer their time, to help rebuild people’s homes., we’re going to help supplement their efforts through the generosity of the Florida fund,” she said.