CRA grant money available for roof repairs in Panama City
News Herald (Panama City, FL)
March 27-- Mar. 27--PANAMA CITY -- Need a new roof after Hurricane Michael? The Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency might be able to help.
Reversing a 2016 decision, the CRA board, which is comprised of city commissioners, unanimously voted Tuesday to allow for CRA grant money to be used for roofs, a practice the city previously had done away with.
"Due to the amount of destruction and devastation from Hurricane Michael ... (we) would like to reverse the decision so that property owners can repair their properties, especially since many were either underinsured or had no insurance whatsoever," CRA director Michael Johnson said.
The CRA offers a handful of grants for residential and commercial property owners who are working to improve their property and, by extension, revitalize their neighborhoods. The programs include Residential Paint Voucher, Residential Improvement Assistance Grant, Commercial Paint Voucher, Commercial Improvement Assistance Grant and Job Creation Grant.
Applications typically require matching funding and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis at the CRA's discretion.
While roof improvements previously were struck because they didn't offer the visual impact the CRA was looking for with its limited funding, times have changed.
"Removing the roofs in the past with the limited funds in the CRA, we felt it was more important to apply the funds to the facades," Commissioner Mike Nichols said. "Based on the hurricane and where we are at now, we have a lot of issues with roofs. I think we will have a lot of blue tarps on the roofs if we don't approve this."
A main talking point was how the administrative change could play a part in alleviating the housing crunch, by giving people a tool to make repairs to either re-establish housing units or protect existing ones.
"If we don't take care of the houses that exist right here, these people are going to need homes also," Commissioner Jenna Haligas said. "Then we are going to be in a worse situation with a shortage of living spaces."
The city's SHIP program, which uses state funds, also is making changes to allow residents to access funding for repairs, according to Johnson.