Florida will be receiving as much as $175 million in funds to increase the size of and enhance its weatherization assistance programs. The funds are being provided from the federal government stimulus plan.
Initially, Florida will receive about $70 million in funding from the stimulus plan, which is formally called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the money will be distributed to help update and weatherize more than 19,000 homes across the state. Weatherization can assist homeowners with saving hundreds of dollars per year on their utility bills.
This is only the first allotment. Florida is picking up just 40 percent of its total weatherization funding initially, which is following the approval of a comprehensive state plan, according to both state and federal government officials. These money is being added to the initial 10 percent funding allocation that was previously awarded to Florida for training and ramp-up activities of the program.
The money will be provided in phases. After the state can prove that it can successfully implement the full plan, Florida will receive another $87 million in federal government funds that will bring its total contribution to $175 million. This will allow tens of thousands of homes to be updated and save energy.
In addition to single-family homes being covered by the weatherization project, some multifamily units as well will be able to receive funding. This is not standard, and has historically been a part of the housing industry that is usually left out of such packages. There are some conditions though, as priority for multifamily homes and weatherization will go to people with disabilities, the elderly, and also families with children younger than 12 years old.
There are several goals to the program. The weatherization funds are meant to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also lowering energy costs and utility bills for low-income families. Assistance will be available to families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $44,000 a year for a family of four. This is an increase from previous years.
The federal funds are just starting to flow, and so far, overall, the federal government has awarded about $450 million to 15 states, and in Florida the share provided would equate to about $3,700 in improvements per home on average. Most states will eventually spend an average of $6,500 to weatherize and upgrade homes for their residents.