Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's office reports that he sent a letter pertaining to disaster funding Monday to the head of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
According to Nelson's office, the letter was urging the head of the office to prioritize the needs of Florida’s low-to moderate-income individuals and families as her department decides how to allocate more than $600 million in federal disaster assistance it’s about to receive.
The funding is meant to help in the on-going recovery from the natural disasters of 2017, among them Hurricane Irma.
The state of Florida has until May 15 to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development its plan for allocating $616 million in Community Development Block Grants that Congress approved to help the state recover in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
The funds, which Congress approved in September as part of a broader $7.8 billion disaster assistance bill, can be used for a wide range of recovery efforts, including to fund repairs to homes and buildings damaged in the storm.
Nelson, who had pushed hard for the funds to be included in the broader bill, said he wants to ensure the state uses those funds to help low- to moderate-income families in Florida who are still unable to find affordable housing in the wake of last year’s storm.
Nelson wrote that the law requires that no less than 70 percent of these funds should be allocated to eligible activities that principally benefit low- and moderate-income individuals
.The state can request waivers to that threshold; Nelson, in his letter, strongly encouraged the state to preserve the thresholds and not seek waivers.