Home-hardening grants for condo owners win preliminary House OK

Article Courtesy of Florida Politics

By Jesse Scheckner

Published February 5, 2024


‘Condominium residents in Florida deserve to live in competently managed and structurally safe buildings.’

Florida condo owners who want to strengthen their properties against seasonal storms are one step closer to getting financial help from the state.

The House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee voted unanimously this week to advance a proposal (HB 1029) that would create the My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program within the Department of Financial Services.

In essence, the bill would allow condo owners to benefit from grants now afforded to owners of single-family homes and townhouses across Florida through the My Safe Florida Home program, which lawmakers resurrected in 2022.

The Legislature has since set aside $433 million to help homeowners harden their domiciles through roof, door and window reinforcement upgrades.

“This important piece of legislation will allow condominium associations, by majority vote, to participate in this grant program and harden their buildings in order to reduce their insurance premiums. Condominium residents in Florida deserve to live in competently managed and structurally safe buildings,” said Rep. Vicki Lopez, a Miami Republican who is co-sponsoring the measure with Democratic Parkland Rep. Christine Hunschofksy.

The bill is one of several efforts Lopez is championing this Session to strengthen condo safeguards in Florida. Another, which she calls “Condo 3.0” and developed with Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, is also progressing.

Hunschofsky told the committee Thursday that HB 1029 began over the summer when Bradley and Lopez visited her district in northwest Broward County to speak with more than 150 condominium residents.

“This work came out of that,” she said. “And it shows that when we’re in our communities, when we’re listening to the people we are elected to serve and when we’re willing to work together, we can get things done.”

Jennifer Ashton of the Florida Association of Builders signaled support for the measure, which has two more committee stops before it reaches the House floor.

An identical companion bill (SB 1366) by Sen. Nick DiCeglie, a St. Petersburg Republican, is scheduled for a Tuesday hearing before the first of three committees to which it was referred.