Bay County's Recovery Plan to Help Secure Federal Disaster Aid

Jul 15, 2019

Bay County’s long-term recovery plan is heading to county commissioners for approval as deadlines for federal housing aid draw closer. 

 

 

Hurricane Michael damaged xx % of homes in Panama City, Florida. Bay County officials estimate at least 5,000 people remain homeless.
Credit Bay County

At their first meeting in August, county commissioners will consider the 295-page plan, which includes 322 proposed housing and infrastructure projects that would cost an estimated $6.9 billion.

The Bay County Long Term Recovery Task Force, a nine-member board of elected officials from the county and its municipalities, ratified the plan last week after months of public meetings. 

“We’ve done a lot of work up to this point, but I think the real work starts now,” said Bay County Commissioner Robert Carroll, the task force’s chairman.

Finalizing a long-term recovery plan is the county’s first major step toward securing recently allocated federal disaster assistance dollars, Carroll said. 

“Now, the grant writers, it’s time for them to get to work to make sure that these projects that we’ve identified we can make them a reality,” he said. 

The plan proposes $2.7 billion in housing projects, which include housing for seniors, students and low- to moderate-income residents. Most of those projects are eligible for federal funding though the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which must spend $2 billion in recently allocated disaster aid by Dec. 6. A third of those funds must be spent by early October. 

The final draft of the county’s long-term recovery plan was published in June and is expected to guide local governments in securing federal, state and private dollars to fund the projects. 

“This process helped us identify that there might be four or five difference sources of money for one project,” Caroll said. But the plan isn’t absolute. Local governments can decide whether or not to pursue certain projects, and the task force can add or remove projects, he said.

“It’s a living document.”