Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) have announced several new forms of housing assistance for survivors of Hurricane Ian, including the first ever state-led housing assistance program.
This comes two weeks after DeSantis launched the Unite Florida Hurricane Recovery Portal, which FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said will streamline the process of applying for assistance. Those affected by Ian can apply for housing services through this portal, or report other unmet needs, such as transportation or food.
DeSantis and Guthrie spoke from Punta Gorda on Monday along with First Lady Casey DeSantis. DeSantis said since launching the portal two weeks ago, they have already received 2,000 responses, 1,500 of which are for housing.
“Not only do we think that we will be filling a need, but we think we can do it quicker and more efficiently than FEMA,” DeSantis said.
Housing will be provided in the form of travel trailers and recreational vehicles. It’s important to note, Guthrie said, that these are intended as a temporary solution until people can transition into more permanent housing. Housing will be available for up to six months.
Additionally, the governor announced that the Florida Disaster Fund will be providing up to $25 million to purchase building materials for verified nonprofit and volunteer groups to perform repairs on homes damaged by Ian. The goal is to relieve the burden on disaster housing programs and get people back into their homes faster.
Guthrie said the Division will be considering the most vulnerable people first for housing assistance. First, the Division will serve those still living in shelters, then veterans, people with disabilities, and other special needs. Guthrie also shared that the first trailer has been set up on Pine Island and is ready for the selected family to move in, pending final inspections from Lee County.
According to FDEM, some forms of assistance may require you to apply for FEMA assistance first. This is to ensure the state government does not duplicate on any assistance already received from other sources.
Those wishing to apply for assistance can do so at IanRecovery.fl.gov/unite.