A grant program to help homeowners make their houses better able with withstand hurricanes has temporarily stopped taking applications.
The SC Safe Home grant program offers up to $5,000 for hurricane-related home improvements in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties. The state Department of Insurance (SCDOI), which distributes the grants, said last month it would no longer accept applications after Saturday due to a backlog of several hundred applications.
The Charleston Post & Courier first reported the halt on Wednesday. It is the first time SCDOI has closed the program to new applications since it began seven years ago.
The program began under 2007 coastal property insurance legislation set aside a percentage of the tax on insurance premiums for the grants. Homeowners can use the grants and matching funds for projects such as hurricane-resistant roofs and high-wind rated windows. Only single-family, owner-occupied homes are eligible. The grant offers matching funds for homes valued at more than $300,000 and full grants for low0income homeowners whose residences are valued at less than $150,000.
An SCDOI spokeswoman told the paper that more than 400 applications are currently pending. A homes must first undergo a wind inspection before its owner can apply for the grant.
“Based on our current funding forecast, we anticipate re-opening the Grant Application Period for new mitigation project applications… beginning April 1, 2015 and closing June 30, 2015,” Roberson wrote in a letter to contractors and inspectors posted on the agency’s website.
The letter asks inspectors not to examine if a home is eligible until closer to the program’s reopening up for applications in April. Any homeowners who do work in the interim cannot then be reimbursed for the costs, the agency said.
Jay Harper contributed to this report.