Florida is still trying to recover from the impact of Hurricane Michael, with many homeowners still displaced. According to Panama City News Herald, Panama City and Bay County officials say they’re working on the issue, developing plans to bring more affordable housing while drawing in state and federal dollars to fund programs to help more people afford rentals and buy homes.
“The most acute impact on our community is our housing stock,” Mark McQueen, city manager of Panama City, said about the hurricane.
Following Hurricane Michael’s landfall in October of 2018, HUD offered foreclosure relief and other assistance to families living in Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.
For homeowners who have lost their homes, HUD said that its Section 203(k) loan program enabled such homeowners to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. “It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home,” HUD said.
In Bay County, officials have been undertaking a variety of plans and programs to ease the housing crisis. Michael Johnson, director of Community Development, manages all aspects of affordable ownership housing development for the county, said the current goal for the area is to help create 500 new homes by 2022, including 200 affordable rentals, 100 energy efficient homes, 100 affordable low-income homes and 100 houses for seniors of low income.
“We’re hoping to break ground on a lot of these this year,” Johnson said.
While Florida was hit hardest by Hurricane Michael with $2.5 billion to $4 billion estimate in wind and storm surge damage, the destruction in Alabama and Georgia was estimated at $0.5 billion to $1 billion.
The federal government recently allocated $448 million for Hurricane Michael housing recovery projects. Since the county received the bulk of the damage from the storm, it’s expected to get at least 60% of those funds, Johnson said.
“We’ve got to get housing here so we can get workers back here,” Johnson said.