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WFSU: Florida Panhandle Counties Get More Funding For Hurricane Michael Loan Program

Florida is relaunching a housing loan program that could benefit hundreds of home buyers in the Panhandle. The money is for hurricane-impacted communities.

This is the second round of housing-recovery loans for people who suffered damage from Hurricane Michael in October of 2018. The first round of $5-million, funded by the Florida Legislature last year, went fast.

“These storms come and then they go, but the damage they leave behind takes time to rebuild," said Gov. Ron DeSantis. "When you have a category 5 storm like we had with Hurricane Michael, that takes years and years of support.”

DeSantis was in Panama City this week to announce an additional $10-million for the Hurricane Michael Recovery Loan Program. The governor says this round should help 660 families.

“I know that they’ve been able to keep more people here as a result of this program than they otherwise would’ve, and I’d like to get everybody back who may have left up to this point," DeSantis said. "Also, you‘re likely to have a good chance to draw some more people in who are looking for greener pastures.”

The program will be administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) starting September 1st. FHFC Executive Director Trey Price says home buyers who earn up to 140 percent of the area’s median income can qualify.

“The home needs to be owner-occupied. This is not for a second investor home or whatnot," Price said. "This needs to be a homestead property.”

The money is being offered in 11 Northwest Florida counties impacted by Hurricane Michael: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington.

The program will provide 30-year fixed rate mortgages. It will also make $15,000 available to each applicant for down payment and closing cost assistance through zero-interest loans. The loans are fully forgivable if the buyer stays in the home for five years or if the homeowner is active duty military and is reassigned.

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