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Gallagher Showcases Free Home Inspection in St. Petersburg


CONTACT: Tami Torres
(850) 413-2842
ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, today promoted the My Safe Florida Home program by showcasing a free mitigation inspection at the home of Johnnie Mae Wynn, a senior living in St. Petersburg.  Gallagher kicked off the $250 million mitigation program on Tuesday at a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee, and said he expects to serve as many as 50,000 Florida families through the program. The Department of Financial Services is administering the program.
"By fortifying homes, we are making families and communities safer and reducing the level of catastrophic losses from hurricanes," Gallagher said.  "We are committed to making this program a success and will partner with local governments to expand the number of homeowners we serve as well as advocate that the Legislature strongly consider funding this program for years to come."
"With the experience Florida has had in past hurricane seasons, it is imperative that strengthening the homes in our communities is a high priority," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. "I applaud the state of Florida for adopting and implementing this program and look forward to working with them in the effort to better protect our residents. I am thankful that St. Petersburg was chosen as a pilot city to begin this process."
The current $250 million program was approved this year by the Legislature to address the state's property insurance crisis following eight hurricanes that caused nearly $40 billion in insured losses in the past two years.   Gallagher said of the 50,000 homes he plans to serve through the program, his goal is to inspect 12,000 homes before the end of this hurricane season.
Ms. Wynn's was the first home inspected through the program in Pinellas County.  Gallagher said Ms. Wynn will soon receive a report detailing the areas of her home that could be strengthened to better protect her and her home against hurricanes.  The report will include an estimate of how much each of the improvements would cost, the expected insurance savings if improvements were made, a rating of the home's current ability to withstand a hurricane and the home's future ability with improvements. 
Through the Department of Financial Services, partnerships with local governments like the City of St. Petersburg may give homeowners like Ms. Wynn the opportunity to make recommended improvements using the financial help through the My Safe Florida Home program, along with other complementary housing programs the city already has in place.
"St. Petersburg is pleased to partner with the state of Florida to provide additional assistance to our residents in helping to protect their homes from hurricane and wind damage," said Tom de Yampert, Manager Housing & Community Development. "This program will expand our ability to offer hurricane hardening assistance to citizens in time for the 2007 hurricane season."
To apply for a free home inspection, Floridians must live in a single-family, site-built home with an insured value of $500,000 or less and have a valid homestead exemption.  Floridians are encouraged to apply on-line at  Homeowners who undergo the My Safe Florida Home inspection may also qualify for grants of up to $5,000 from the state of Florida to fortify their homes.
The department is partnering with other city and county governments throughout Florida, as well as non-profit organizations, to expand the reach of the program and to strengthen a greater number of homes against catastrophic storms.