David and Barbara Noah's one-story home in Shore Acres is pictured during the process of elevating it in 2019, after being flooded by storms. [ Courtesy of Barbara Noah ]

FL - Federal money to elevate your home? It’s not so easy.

The federal programs are costly and take years. Few homeowners have benefited.

TALLAHASSEE — After storm surge from Hurricane Idalia flooded homes in Tampa Bay and Florida’s Big Bend region last week, state officials are asking homeowners to tap into a federal program to help pay to elevate homes.

“It is one of the best programs that we have in our toolkit,” Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie told reporters last week. “We’re going to try to make the mitigation fund bankrupt.”

The obscure program has some major caveats, however.

The program is confusing, and the process can take years. And because homeowners have to pay the cost up front, only people who can afford to spend six figures elevating their home could tap into it.

For those reasons, relatively few Floridians have had their homes elevated through the various federal programs.

Here’s how the programs work:

What does the federal government offer?

There are several federal programs that offer money to elevate a home or business.

Guthrie was referring to the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Administration and is available after disasters declared by the president. Hurricanes Idalia and Ian are two such disasters.

There are other programs that are available each year, however, and they all work more or less the same: They assign money to state and local governments to protect homes and businesses from future flooding.

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