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More and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region. In some places, rent has doubled. The cost of everyday goods — like gas and groceries — keeps creeping up. All the while, wages lag behind and the affordable housing crisis looms. Amid cost-of-living increases, WUSF is focused on documenting how people are making ends meet.

Florida is receiving $910M for Hurricane Ian recovery. Officials say that's a fraction of what's needed

Behind a barbed wire fence and a grassy lot, a mobile home damaged by Hurricane Ian is visible.
Hardee County Sheriff's Office
/
Courtesy
Behind a barbed wire fence, a mobile home in Hardee County was left with severe damages after Hurricane Ian.

The estimated cost of long-term disaster recovery after Hurricane Ian is $2.5 billion. The latest installment of federal funds gives Florida counties less than half of that.

Florida is set to receive an additional $910 million for Hurricane Ian recovery efforts in20 impacted counties, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hardee and DeSoto counties.

The Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in March. The funds were designed to better support resiliency and equity in recovery for all impacted communities.


  • Email: HurricaneIan@RebuildFlorida.gov
  • Mail:
    FloridaCommerce
    Office of Long-Term Resiliency
    Attention: CDBG-Disaster Recovery Program
    The Caldwell Building
    107 East Madison Street, MSC-400
    Tallahassee FL, 32399

“We know that far too often, not-so-privileged households bear the brunt of weather-related disasters. We will ensure they have access to the resources they need to rebuild and recover, equitably," according to a written statement by HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge.

The nearly $1 billion doesn't include the funding provided to four severely impacted counties (Lee, Orange, Volusia and Sarasota counties), including $201.5 million granted directly to Sarasota County.

READ MORE: Sarasota County is receiving a federal grant for Hurricane Ian recovery

FloridaCommerce, the state agency appointed to distribute the funds in Florida, has to submit a spending plan to HUD by Sept. 20. Leading up to the deadline, the agency has conducted nearly 40 community listening sessions and community workshops to gather feedback from residents in impacted counties.

"These workshops gave us an opportunity to hear from impacted citizens and other communities to help us better understand their needs," agency director Justin Domer said. "Your feedback is absolutely crucial. And we definitely need your help to ensure that we get this right."

Florida residents have until Aug. 12 to provide input on how the state should spend the money.

Now, in the last stage of developing a spending plan, the agency is hosting public hearings across the state — the latest of which was in Hillsborough County.

FloridaCommerce officials held a public hearing in Hillsborough County on Aug. 4 to discuss the proposed spending plan for HUD-designated hurricane recovery funds.
Screenshot of Florida Channel
FloridaCommerce officials held a public hearing in Hillsborough County on Aug. 4 to discuss the proposed spending plan for HUD-designated hurricane recovery funds.

During a public hearing on Aug. 4, a panel reviewed the goals and limitations of the current spending plan.

Angie Griffin, the agency's policy manager, reviewed the chief "unmet needs" for Ian-impacted counties, or "the portion of need unlikely to be addressed by insurance proceeds, other federal assistance or any other funding sources."

The estimated cost of all unmet needs after Hurricane Ian is $2.5 billion. At $901 million, the latest installment of HUD-designated funds gives Florida counties less than half of that.

"It's clear that more funding is needed to meet the state's action plan," Griffin said.

The agency's current action plan proposes that $795 million — roughly 90 percent — of the $910 million total allocation from HUD be put toward unmet housing needs, including funding programs to repair damaged housing, provide specific assistance to survivors of multiple hurricanes and build affordable and workforce housing.

With limited federal funding, Domer said the team sees addressing counties' unmet housing needs as "a moral obligation."

The state is also proposing that the $910 million in disaster recovery funds be used to address infrastructure and economic revitalization in impacted counties.

Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.

I tell stories about living paycheck to paycheck for public radio at WUSF News. I’m also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.