PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday the state will relaunch a hurricane recovery program to help residents still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael.
The area was devastated by Category 5 Michael on Oct. 10, 2018, which produced catastrophic damage to Mexico Beach, Panama City and Tyndall Air Force Base.
The governor said Monday that on Sept. 1 the Florida Housing Finance Corporation will relaunch the Hurricane Michael Recovery Loan Program. This is the second year for the program.
The program was funded by the Legislature last year with $5 million, which helped 335 families. This year the program was funded at $10 million, which the governor said will help 660 families purchase a home.
The program will provide people who make up to 140 percent of the area median income with up to $15,000 in zero-interest loans to be used for a down payment and closing cost assistance to purchase a home in area Panhandle counties.
DeSantis said the loans are forgivable by 20 percent every year for five years, meaning residents will not have to owe anything on the house if they live there for five years.
If an active-duty service member participating in the program is reassigned to a different location, the loan will be completely forgiven regardless of how long they have lived in the home.
Coronavirus in Florida
During Monday's news conference, DeSantis also provided an update on Florida's response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
"We have trends in Florida that have been trending in the right direction for many weeks now," DeSantis said. "Last week we had the lowest percentage of tests that tested positive since the week of June 7."
The governor said last week was also the sixth straight week there has been a decline in the coronavirus positivity rate.
Also, DeSantis said patients with the coronavirus that have been hospitalized have declined by nearly 40 percent since peaking statewide on July 22.
The number of people who are showing up at emergency rooms in Florida with COVID-19 symptoms has been "declining for weeks and weeks," the governor said.