South Carolina senators want to expand a program so it can help low-income homeowners make flood-prevention improvements to their home.
The Senate voted last week to expand the parameters of the SC Safe Home program, which currently offers grants up to $5,000 for residents to protect their homes from hurricane winds. The proposal sent to the House would expand the same program to help residents prepare their homes against floods.
“What this bill does is expand the SC Safe Home program to allow grants of up to $5,000 in matching funds to make homes more flood-resistant,” State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said on the Senate floor.
The current Safe Home program has been wildly popular along the coast and has run out of money each year since 2012. It is funded by a percentage of taxes on insurance premiums for homes underwritten by the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association. The bill would triple the percentage of the fee which could be used towards grants.
State Department of Insurance commissioner Raymond Farmer asked lawmakers to expand the program’s reach, saying most homeowners take few precautions to protect their homes from a potential flood. “It will not do everything one needs to have done to their homes, but it is certainly a great incentive,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.
Eligible recipients must earn 80 percent or less of the median household income for their home county to avoid a match requirement. The grants could be matched up to $5,000. Potential projects include: raising the home above the minimum elevation standards, adding vent, installing breakaway walls and relocating a structure.
Farmer said every dollar spent on prevention efforts can save multiple times that once floodwaters do come. “If there’s something we can do to our home now that would protect it if and when we have another flood, I think that idea sells itself.