Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson has announced an $82.9 million spending plan to support Florida’s long-term recovery from the effects of Hurricane Wilma.

The program will focus on helping counties and Indian tribes throughout southern Florida to restore their stock of affordable housing, according to the HUD announcement.

The funding is part of $11.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant program assistance that Jackson allocated to Florida and four other Gulf Coast states in January.

Florida’s 2005 Disaster Recovery Initiative Action Plan seeks to restore affordable housing that was damaged or destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. Local county governments and Indian tribes that receive grants through this program are required to devote at least 70 percent of the grant money toward restoring affordable housing. Local governments are encouraged to give special consideration to the unmet housing needs of the elderly, persons with disabilities, farm workers, the homeless and families living in poverty, according to the announcement.

Eligible housing projects may include rehabilitation, relocation, demolition and replacement, and new construction of affordable housing. CDBG funding provided through this program may also support farm-worker housing, transitional housing for homeless individuals and families, and the restoration of water and sewer services to residential areas.

Local communities can also dedicate a portion of the money to repair streets, improve water and wastewater systems, upgrade drainage systems, and repair damaged public buildings. Business assistance may include repairing or improving certain public systems that would attract or retain area businesses considered vital to support that community’s jobs base, HUD announced.

“Last year’s hurricanes forced us all to recognize that the long road back must be open to everyone,” Jackson said in a statement.

“Florida’s plan pays particular attention to the needs of lower-income families who are trying to afford a home they can call their own.”

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a statement, “These funds will assist our local governments rebuild impacted communities and ensure Florida’s healthy economy continues to grow.”

More information about Florida’s 2005 Disaster Recovery Initiative Action Plan is available at HUD’s Web site, www.hud.gov.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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