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Coastal Grant Program Urges Homeowners To Apply Before Funds Run Out

By Evelina Burnett | Published 08 Aug 2013 07:54pm | comments

Changes to Mississippi’s Coastal Retrofit program are making it easier for homeowners to get the grants, which are used to make homes more hurricane-resistant. Homeowners interested in the program may only have a few more months to apply. 

Thomas Linenberger points out one of the retrofits he’s made to make his Biloxi home stronger. Using a Mississippi Coastal Retrofit grant, Linenberger also has new hurricane shutters and doors, as well as a stronger roof. His cost share was about $3,800. 


"I'm getting an insurance discount right now from the Mississippi Windpool of $539 off of my insurance so that wouldn't take long to get my cost recovery," says Linenberger.

 
The $27 million Coastal Retrofit program was started in 2011 to offer grants to homeowners to help strengthen their homes. Michael Ferdinand is the program’s project manager.

"It's focus is to improve the survivability of homes here on the coast.  It is to make the communities more resilient, and it's far more cost effective to invest now and improve the survivability of the home than to try and replace them in the future," explains Ferdinand.

Buy-in was slow at first, in large part due to a 25% homeowner cost share. Last November, the cost share was lowered to 10 percent. Also, the program can now help homeowners receive the fortified home certification that leads to insurance discounts from the windpool and private companies. Ferdinand says there’s been a tremendous response to these changes. The program is now committing about $1.3 million every month. 

"We're a little over  halfway through the funding so this project goes until the funds are exhausted, at our current rate, if a homeowner doesn't have an application in to us really before the end of the year, it's unlikely there will be sufficient funds for them to participate," continues Ferdinand.     

It can take up to six months to complete the grant process, though the actual retrofits usually take three to five days to install. The average homeowner cost share is $3400. 

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