About 25 members of the public attended the first of three public meetings about FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program known as STEP. This new grant program only has been implemented twice before – after Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast and following flooding in and around Baton Rouge, La.
STEP is a rapid repair program which enables eligible individuals or families whose homes were damaged due to Hurricane Irma to take shelter in their own homes while they rebuild. This includes a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and air-conditioning for this livable area of the home. The program is at no cost to the homeowner.
There are two more public meetings. Both run from 6 to 8 p.m.:
Tuesday, Nov. 7: Keys Community Church, 30300 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key
Wednesday, Nov. 8: Sugarloaf School, 225 Crane Blvd, Sugarloaf Key
Monday’s meeting will be available to watch Tuesday on “MCTV Video on Demand” on the Monroe County website at this link: http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewCalendar.aspx?siteSKU=qoO9%2b8C6gRWyzrz1siMncQ%3d%3d#.
At the Monday night meeting at the Marathon Government Center, information about the program was provided and questions were answered. At the meeting’s conclusion, homeowners were able to register for the program. Documentation of property ownership and proof of residency is required.
STEP is not a permanent repair program. STEP is meant to provide the most basic, life -sustaining needs for emergency sheltering. Repairs are capped at $20,000.
STEP is available for disaster-damaged single family, owner-occupied residential properties in Monroe County. These include duplexes, townhomes, modular homes and permanently placed mobile homes. Other types of owner occupied residences may be eligible, subject to approval by the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) on a case-by-case basis.
If you own the mobile home and live in the mobile home, but lease the site where it is located, you are eligible for the program.
A home is not eligible if it cannot be made safe for sheltering purposes, including due to the presence of excessive toxic or hazardous materials, for less than the $20,000 cap. However, if the price to make it livable is not much more than $20,000, it is possible to have volunteer groups, the homeowners or others do some of the cleanup or repairs to make the contracted work price tag fall under the cap.
STEP Is NOT available for travel trailers, RVs, commercial properties and commonly owned areas, structures or equipment.
Anyone who wants to participate in FEMA’s Step Program must first apply for FEMA’s Individual Assistance. The deadline to do so has been extended to Nov. 24, 2017.
To apply for the STEP program, call the STEP hotline at 1-800-960-5860. It is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After applying by phone, required documentation can be scanned and emailed to Step@monroecounty-fl.gov.
An in-person site to register also is in the works on Big Pine Key. The location will be announced in the next few days.
Monroe County is the recipient of the FEMA grant for the STEP program, which is being administered by the State of Florida. The contracted work for the repairs is paid directly by Monroe County.