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'Over 1,000 applications!' Lee Cares Housing Recovery Program helps survivors.

Posted at 10:06 PM, Feb 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 22:06:31-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Lee County residents impacted by Hurricane Ian may now receive more support as the Lee Cares Housing Recovery Program kicks into gear. Started this month, the program aims to disburse federal money to income eligible individuals for repairing, rebuilding, or even purchasing homes within Lee County.

"The program is primarily intended to serve low to moderate income households. As soon as the program has allocated or exhausted 70% of the funding to that LMI population, then we're allowed to serve higher income populations," said Kesha Simon, Lee Cares Program Director.

Funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, applicants must meet specific criteria to qualify, including residency in Lee County during Hurricane Ian and meeting income guidelines.

"Today we reached over a thousand applications," Simon noted.

The extent of assistance provided includes reimbursements for home structural work such as roof replacements and windows, with the possibility of new constructions in severe cases.

"Once an inspector has come out and said 'Hey your damages are so extensive that the cost of repair is going to be greater than the cost to just get you a new home, build you a new home.' In those cases we'll demolish the structure and build you a new unit on that same footprint," Simon explained.

In addition, prospective homebuyers in Lee County could receive up to $75,000 in down payment assistance. The program directors are meeting with lenders and realtors on Wednesday to educate them about the program's offerings.

Tax returns from the current year or the previous two years are acceptable proofs of income, with each applicant assigned a case worker to guide them through the process.

While no specific deadline for applications has been set, the program director notes that assistance will continue until the money runs out.