MONROE COUNTY, FL – At least 140 homeowners in the Florida Keys have registered for FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program known as STEP. This new grant program only has been implemented twice before – after Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast and following flooding in Baton Rouge, La.
STEP is a rapid repair program which enables eligible individuals or families whose primary homes were damaged due to Hurricane Irma to take shelter in their own homes while they rebuild. This includes providing a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and air-conditioning for this livable area of the home
The first home inspections for the STEP program in the Keys begin Nov. 21. The STEP program’s contractor already is in place and is expected to begin the first repair work on damaged primary homes within two weeks.
The deadline to apply for STEP is at the end of November, but the sooner a homeowner applies the quicker the process can begin. The grant for the STEP program requires all repair work to be completed by the end of January.
PLEASE NOTE: Any homeowner who wants to participate in FEMA’s Step Program must first apply for FEMA’s Individual Assistance. The deadline to apply for Individual Assistance is Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.
STEP is not a permanent repair program. STEP is meant to provide the most basic, life-sustaining needs for emergency shelter. Repairs are capped at $20,000 and the repairs are at no cost to the homeowner.
STEP is available for disaster-damaged single-family, owner-occupied residential properties, which include duplexes, townhomes, modular homes, and permanently placed mobile homes. Other types of owner-occupied residences may be eligible, subject to approval by the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) on a case-by-case basis.
A home is not eligible if it cannot be made safe for sheltering purposes, including due to the presence of excessive toxic or hazardous materials, for less than the $20,000 cap.
STEP Is NOT available for travel trailers, RVs, commercial properties and commonly owned areas, structures or equipment.
To apply for the STEP program, call the STEP hotline at 1-800-960-5860. It is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After applying by phone, required documentation can be scanned and emailed to Step@monroecounty-fl.gov.
Homeowners also can apply in person at Monroe County Mayor George Neugent’s office at 25 Ships Way on Big Pine Key, Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Documentation of property ownership and proof of residency is required.
Information about the STEP program and forms to fill out are available on the Monroe County website at: http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/index.aspx?NID=728.
A video of Monday’s information meeting is available on “MCTV Video on Demand” on the Monroe County website at this link: http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewCalendar.aspx?siteSKU=qoO9%2b8C6gRWyzrz1siMncQ%3d%3d#.