The South Carolina Safe Home program returned this year after a hiatus in accepting applications since 2015. Here are 5 things to know about the scheme before the next round of allocations are made available in July 2019.
What is it?
In short, the program allows homeowners to apply for a grant of up to $5000 to put towards mitigation retrofits helping to prevent the home from damage due to severe weather conditions such as hurricanes. Those who do this right, and team it up with their insurance discounts and tax incentives offered by the state, will see savings of over fifty percent compared to if they just paid for it outright. If the property has existing extreme weather damage, unfortunately, it will not be eligible for the grant. Qualifying roof retrofits include the strengthening of the roof deck attachment, installation of secondary water barriers to prevent water from getting in the property, installation of high wind-rated roof coverings, the reinforcement of roof-wall connections in the home and bracing of the gable ends in your roof.
There’s no income limit
The great thing about the scheme is that it is open to all residents of Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Williamsburg and some parts of Florence and Marion. Essentially all the coastal counties of the state, regardless of how much homeowners earn.
It’s worth noting, however, that there is a limit when it comes to the value of the house. It must not be insured for any more than $300,000 in order to be eligible. Homeowners will also have to have their property inspected by a certified wind inspector prior to applying for the grant. Any inspector that’s worth their while will help with the application post inspection. Be prepared to pay around $150 for the inspection.
There could be a long wait
There has been reports of applicants waiting anything up to 10 months to have their application approved. Following this, homeowners are then allotted a timeframe in which to complete the work. This is usually anything from three to six months. Add this to the fact that last years’ applications were taken on later than expected, there could be a backlog in the process causing applications to open later than July 1st for the 2019/2020 fiscal year too.
Income plays a factor in how much homeowners are eligible to receive
Though income isn’t assessed for eligibility to be part of the program, it will be assessed to see whether applicants will receive a matching or non-matching grant. If the applicant’s adjusted gross annual household income is less than 80% of the median income of the county they’re applying in, they would be eligible for a non-matching grant of $5000. If, however, the applicant earns more, they would only be eligible for a dollar for dollar matching grant, up to a maximum of $4000. Prospective applicants can check their eligibility by filling out their income information here.
There’s documentation required to get started
All applicants to the program will need to have their latest tax return as well as a copy of the declarations page from their homeowner’s insurance in order to lodge the application. They also need the report from the wind inspector we mentioned above as well as images of the property. These images will be provided by the SC Safe Home Inspector.
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