Rebuild Florida

34-35 Destroyed Home  W

Photo 1 Tale of 3 Homes by Irma W

Rebuild Florida, a federally-funded, state-run program to help Floridians recover from Hurricane Irma, is still open for enrollment for Monroe County residents. 

The Federal Government appropriated funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to respond to Hurricane Irma impacts. Florida is slated to receive $616 million in the first round. This money will help families/residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Irma repair or rebuild their homes. $90 Million was set aside for the Florida Keys in the first round.

As of April 2019, more than 1,250 households in the Florida Keys have registered for Rebuild Florida. Of those households, 533 already have been prioritized and provided applications. 

The funding is being administrated through the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's (DEO) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program (CDRG-DR). DEO has prepared an action plan for these funds.

HUD also has announced that Florida will receive an additional allocation of $791 million in the next round. It is anticipated that a portion of this funding will go to the Infrastructure Repair and Mitigation Program.  A substantial amendment to the State Action Plan has been approved by HUD.


Rebuild Florida is a program open to residents with low and moderate-income levels who own their homes and also to owners of rental properties who rent to residents with low and moderate incomes. The 2018 maximum levels in the Keys to meet low and moderate-income are as follows, based on the size of the household. 

Priority will be given to the most vulnerable households with Average Median Income at or below 80 percent, with seniors age 62+, with children under the age of 18, those with special needs or special accommodation requirements (including disability), and persons displaced from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands who are permanently resettling in Florida.

80 Percent of Average Median Income

  • 1 person: $49,400
  • 2 people: $56,450
  • 3 people: $63,500
  • 4 people: $70,550
  • 5 people: $76,200
  • 6 people $81,850
  • 7 people: $87,500
  • 8 people: $93,150

120 Percent of Average Median Income

  • 1 person: $ 74,160
  • 2 people: $ 84,720
  • 3 people: $ 95,280
  • 4 people: $105,840
  • 5 people: $114,360
  • 6 people: $122,880
  • 7 people: $131,280
  • 8 people: $139,800


There are four ways Monroe County residents can register for Rebuild Florida:


Photo of first Florida Rebuild Center in Marathon-1

The Rebuild Florida center is located at 2796 Overseas Highway in Marathon (the state building next to the Marathon Government Center) and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be the only center in the Keys. At the center, housing intake specialists are available to help homeowners register for the program. Residents only need to bring ID to register.

Assistance also available for landlords of affordable housing

Rebuild Florida is a federally funded program for homeowners who meet eligibility requirements and need financial assistance to repair, elevate, rebuild or replace a structure that was damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

Rebuild Florida reconstruction funds also are available to owners of rental properties who rent housing to people who meet affordable/workforce income levels. The landlord must agree to continue to rent to people who meet those income levels to be eligible.

Rental property owners will be prioritized based on the household characteristics they rent to and on the order that the applications are received. Characteristics of the tenants must include at least one of the following:

  • Households with incomes less than the low-income category. For a family of four, it is $70,500 in Monroe County.
  • Households with seniors age 62 and older
  • Households with children under age 18
  • Households with special needs or special accommodation requirements (disabled)

The Rebuild Florida program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will assist eligible homeowners through every step of the process. After DEO and a homeowner reach an agreement on the needed construction assistance, DEO will contract directly with qualified contractors to repair, rebuild, elevate or replace a damaged home. In the first phase of the multi-phased Rebuild Florida program, $50 million is earmarked for Monroe County. This funding is a grant, not a loan.

Rebuild Florida Guidelines for Rental Property Owners

Photo of Marathon Mayor Michelle Coldiron, DEO Director Cissy Proctor, Monroe COunty Mayor David Ric

Rebuild Florida news conference in Marathon on Sept. 24, 2018. (L-R) Monroe County Commissioner Michelle Coldiron, DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor, Monroe County Mayor David Rice and state Rep. Holly Raschein.


To address these needs, DEO proposes the following programs, which are described in more detail below:

  • Housing Repair and Replacement Program
  • Workforce Affordable Rental New Construction Program
  • Land Acquisition for Workforce Affordable Rental Program
  • Voluntary Home Buyout Program

HUD requires DEO to define what would constitute a housing unit “not suitable for rehabilitation. DEO defines “not suitable for rehabilitation” as one of the two following definitions:

  • Residential properties that have experienced repetitive losses under FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Dwellings that are considered substandard and do not meet the recovery program’s housing rehabilitation standards and/or federal, state, local code requirements shall not be deemed suitable for rehabilitation, as determined by the program and consistent with program guidelines. The determination may be established based on the calculation that the cost of rehabilitation is close to or exceeds the cost to reconstruct.

Housing Repair Program - $50 Million Keyswide

The Housing Repair Program will rehabilitate or replace single-family and rental housing for low- and moderate-income families impacted by Hurricane Irma. DEO will manage and complete the construction on behalf of eligible applicants. 

Through a team of agency and consultant support, the state will work with a pool of qualified contractors assigned to repair, reconstruct or replace damaged properties. Applicants will be assigned a contractor and will be required to enter into agreements with the state setting forth the terms and conditions of the program. 

DEO proposes the following housing assistance activities under this program:

  • Repairs to, reconstruction or replacement of housing units damaged by Hurricane Irma, which may include bringing the home into code compliance and mitigation against future storm impacts, including elevation.
  • The completion of work to homes that have been partially repaired.
  • Repairs to, or replacement of, manufactured homes impacted by Hurricane Irma.
  • Replacement of housing units that were included in the Home Buyout Program.
  • Temporary housing assistance based on individual household needs and their participation in the Housing Repair Program.

Registration for this Housing Repair Program Coming Soon: The Department of Economic Opportunity has announced that they will establish a Registration Intake Center and an online registration system for Hurricane Irma survivors to register for assistance. Stay tuned for additional information regarding opening dates in the near future.”

Infrastructure Repair and Mitigation Program - No Program Funding in First Round of CDBG-DR

The Federal Register Notice requires CDBG-DR recipients to consider housing needs first. DEO will focus the original CDBG-DR allocation of $616 million on addressing remaining housing and economic development unmet needs. 

HUD has announced that Florida will receive an additional allocation of $791 million and it is anticipated that a portion of this funding will go to the Infrastructure Repair and Mitigation Program. DEO will work with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) to help communities to use CDBG-DR funding to leverage other funding sources such as HMGP and the 406 Public Assistance Mitigation Program. 

Additional guidance will be released in the federal register on how this funding can be used by states. DEO will further define this program based on this guidance.

For more information, visit

State Action Plan for DIsaster Recvoery program budget 1

State Action Plan for DIsaster Recvoery program budget 2

Housing Repair Program - More Details

The Housing Repair Program is a grant program and requires applicants to be primary resident homeowners or property owners of rental property as of the time of the Irma storm event (September 10, 2017). HUD’s regulations regarding the use of grant funding for Hurricane Irma recovery state that an alternative requirement for housing rehabilitation is assistance for second homes. 

HUD is instituting an alternative requirement to the rehabilitation provisions at 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(4) as follows: Properties that served as second homes at the time of the disaster, or following the disaster, are not eligible for rehabilitation assistance or housing incentives. A second home is defined under this notice as a home that is not the primary residence of the owner, a tenant, or any occupant at the time of the storm or at the time of application for assistance. 

DEO may adopt policies and procedures that provide for limited exceptions to providing assistance to a second home in order to meet specific disaster recovery needs (e.g., adding affordable housing capacity); provided however that such exceptions are developed in consultation with and approved by HUD prior to implementation. DEO can verify a primary residence using a variety of documentation including, but not limited to, voter registration cards, tax returns, homestead exemptions, driver’s licenses, and rental agreements. Additionally, seasonal, short-term and vacation rental properties are not eligible for assistance.

DEO will implement construction methods that emphasize quality, durability, energy efficiency, sustainability, and mold resistance. All rehabilitation, reconstruction, and new construction will be designed to incorporate principles of sustainability, including water and energy efficiency, resilience, and mitigation against the impact of future disasters. DEO will implement and monitor construction results to ensure the safety of residents and the quality of homes assisted through the program. All housing units repaired or replaced must comply with the current HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The housing assistance provided under the Housing Repair Program will be built with an emphasis on high quality, durable, sustainable, and energy-efficient construction methods and materials.

These include the following minimum standards:

  • Construction standards will be based on the Florida Building Code and must meet or exceed applicable requirements.
  • Construction will comply with the Green Building Standard for all new construction of residential
    buildings and for all replacement of substantially damaged residential buildings (i.e., where repair costs exceed 50 percent of replacement cost) under the Florida Green Building Coalition.
  • For rehabilitation construction, the state will follow the Green Building Retrofit Checklist to the extent applicable to the rehabilitation work undertaken, including the use of mold-resistant products when replacing surfaces such as drywall. When older or obsolete products are replaced as part of the rehabilitation work, rehabilitation is required to use ENERGY STAR-labeled, WaterSense-labeled, or Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated products and appliances, or other equivalents.

Properties with rehabilitation and/or elevation cost estimates that meet or exceed 75 percent of a comparable reconstruction or replacement house as determined by standard operating procedures and policies will provide homeowners the option to select a reconstructed or replacement house. Properties with rehabilitation and/or elevation cost estimate that meet or exceed a comparable reconstruction or replacement house may be required by the program may be limited to reconstruction or replacement as a more cost reasonable option and therefore required. Housing Repair Program homeowner-occupant participants household incomes cannot exceed 120 percent Area Median Income (AMI).

Leveraged Programs

Properties located in a Home Buyout Program will not be eligible for assistance under the Housing Repair Program. Properties already enrolled in other FEMA HMGP home repair and mitigation programs and eligible for Irma CDBG-DR assistance may only be eligible for the required matching funds subject to case-by-case reviews of the HMGP project scope.

Duplication of Benefits

To prevent duplication of benefits, DEO will require that all sources (federal, state, local, private) and amounts of disaster housing assistance received or reasonably anticipated to be received are documented with the submission of the application for CDBG-DR funding. Duplication of benefits for housing assistance will only consider other sources of funding pertaining to structural damage caused by the hurricane. 

Assistance for contents and personal items will not be considered duplication. Prior to program-related construction, applicant awardees must submit any additional funds received for housing damage caused by the presidentially-declared hurricane disaster to the State to avoid duplication of benefits. CDBG-DR funding must be the funding of last resort. Any additional funds paid to applicant awardees for the same purpose as the housing assistance award after the State has completed the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of the applicant’s housing units must be returned to DEO.

Program Priorities

Recognizing that the $273 million allocated for owner-occupied housing and rental properties will likely not address all need, at-risk and vulnerable populations with the greatest needs will be prioritized. At a minimum, 70 percent of program funds meet a low- and moderate-income national objective. Households with income higher than 120 percent of AMI will not be eligible for this program. Households with one or more of the below facts will be prioritized and processed in the order that they complete an application.

  • Households with seniors age 65+
  • Households with children age 18 or younger
  • Households with special needs or special accommodation requirements (disabled)
  • Low- to very-low incomes

As grant award agreements in either set of reserved funds approach full obligation, DEO will analyze
remaining potential eligible applicant pipeline and may choose to re-allocate funds from one reserved amount to the other or place remaining applicants on hold until priority household applicants are fully processed and need most realized. As program application intake production is monitored, DEO may choose to adjust the percentage of reserved funding or re-allocate additional funding from other programs with less production to maximize assistance for priority applicants eligible and seeking Housing Repair Program assistance.

The Basis for Calculating Housing Assistance Awards

If eligible and awarded, housing assistance award calculations may be based on the following factors:

1. In order to ensure that housing assistance amounts are cost reasonable, the maximum amount of CDBG-DR assistance available to a beneficiary under the Housing Repair Program is $150,000. In cases of demonstrable hardship or where local housing markets warrant an increase of the cap, beneficiaries may propose an alternative cap to DEO for review and approval. An increased cap may also be used to provide funding for difficult or unexpected repairs above and beyond the housing caps.

2. A review of all funding received by the applicant from any source to calculate the total previous assistance received by the applicant and to ensure no Duplication of Benefits (DOB);

3. Damage/scope of project work needed; and,

4. Reconstruction or Replacement Value

Housing assistance awards will be determined after factoring in the inputs listed above, subtracting any duplication of benefit and qualified offsets for eligible repair estimates, and then factoring in the predetermined program assistance maximums that apply to the housing assistance activities to be used. Funds qualified as DOB may be required in support of the overall construction assistance provided. Awards may include expenses for additional related costs such as green building and mitigation requirements, elevation, insurance, ADA modifications, repair or replacement of water, sewer and utility connection needs.

Cost-effective energy measures and improvements that meet local zoning and code, Decent Safe and Sanitary (DSS) or required Housing Quality Standards (HQS), especially those improvements which add enhanced resilience, such as elevation of major electrical components, roof strapping and other items are also eligible.

Environmental review and determined required remediation for items such as lead-based paint abatement, asbestos abatement, or other remediation components shall also be eligible.

Elevations will be included for applicants that meet requirements determined by the program, including substantially damaged properties as per locally approved floodplain requirements. Elevation will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Elevations will not be conducted on properties outside of the floodplain, with the possible exception where elevation is required by local ordinance. DEO will follow HUD guidance to ensure all structures, defined at 44 CFR 59.1, designed principally for residential use and located in the 1 percent annual (or 100-year) floodplain, that receive assistance for new construction, repair of substantial damage, or substantial improvement, as defined at 24 CFR 55.2(b)(10), will be elevated with the lowest floor at least two feet above the 1 percent annual floodplain elevation.

If located in a 100-year floodplain, the applicant will be required by federal assistance to maintain flood insurance and notify future owners or flood insurance requirements. Federal law requires people who live in a floodplain and previously received Federal disaster funds to repair their homes as the result of a flood to carry flood insurance in perpetuity on that property. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act prohibits the receipt of disaster assistance because of lack of required flood insurance; accordingly, whether a property is subject to this requirement will be reviewed during the eligibility phase of the program. 

If an applicant is eligible for program assistance, a covenant will be required to be placed on the property requiring that flood insurance is maintained on that property in perpetuity. An award may also include assistance to pay for up to the first two years of flood insurance premiums for eligible program applicants. Such parameters to determine eligibility for assistance with flood insurance premiums shall be further defined in the state’s policies and procedures.