Where to find help if you were flooded by recent Miami storm

Nora Trujillo, 62, reacts to the water damage inside her kitchen caused by flooding that occurred a week earlier, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on Friday, June 10, 2022.

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Nora Trujillo ticked off the losses from the flood on her fingers: a computer, a microwave, a television, a couch, most of the family’s clothes and a fan that fell into the foot and a half of floodwater that surged into her Little Havana home.

That list doesn’t include her life-saving medicine that needs to be kept cool. When the water rose, short-circuiting her refrigerator, Trujillo wrapped her medicine in two layers of plastic shopping bags and tucked it inside a foam cooler on a high shelf. It survived.

The landlord who’s been renting her the two-bedroom, one-bath apartment for 21 years replaced the fridge a week later.

For the rest, she’s on her own.

“We lost everything,” said Trujillo, 62. “We live paycheck to paycheck. They also raised our rent recently. I would say we lost about $5,000 worth in damages. We’re lost.”

Like any other renter that suffered damage during the flooding rains earlier this month, Trujillo has few options for financial help recovering from the storm. She’s not alone. Most Miami residents are renters, about 68%, according to one estimate. That’s more than New York or Los Angeles.

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Renter Nora Trujillo, 62, holds up a receipt showing the amount being charged by the landlord for rent despite, she says, the owner rejecting a request to make repairs for damage caused by flooding in Little Havana in early June. The landlord did replace her refrigerator. But, Trujillo said, ‘We lost everything.’ Daniel A. Varela [email protected]

Her neighbor tried to call FEMA for help, but since the rain came from an unnamed storm, there was no disaster declaration to unlock federal aid. That leaves county and city programs, which are few and far between for this specific issue.

The city of Miami, which offers financial help for property owners, said renters can call the city’s homeless hotline for help moving to a new, non-flood-damaged apartment. Miami-Dade County offers financial help for residents who can’t afford a rent increase

“Renters kinda get left out on both ends — no warning and no assistance,” said Dan Mathis, a housing policy fellow with Next100., a progressive think tank He said that only seven states require landlords to give potential tenants a heads up if flooding may be an issue. Florida isn’t one of them.

Mathis said renters can always consider a “contents only” flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program to protect their belongings against future storms.

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Nora Trujillo, 62, sorts clothing stored atop furniture in an effort to save the items from water damage by flooding that occurred in early June 2022 in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. Daniel A. Varela [email protected]

Help for homeowners

Homeowners have more options than renters, pretty much anywhere in the county.

Several cities, including North Miami and Hialeah, offer a low-interest, forgivable loan to help low-income residents make repairs to their homes. In Homestead, residents can apply for a grant to fix up their homes.

Funding is running low for some of those programs, though. Miami-Dade’s version of this program is not accepting applicants at this time. And Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade, a home repair nonprofit started after Hurricane Andrew 30 years ago, has temporarily run out of cash to help homeowners. But despite a long waiting list, Development Director Ashley Snow encouraged folks in need to apply for help.

“We are constantly seeking funding and never know what will come through,” she said.

The city of Miami also has an emergency relocation program that can be used for low-income residents in a flood-damaged building and a repair program that can fund up to $20,000 of emergency repairs and up to $70,000 in longer-term repairs. The cash comes in the form of a low-interest loan that can be forgiven if the homeowner stays in the property for 10 years.

“If we need to get additional funds we definitely can allocate additional funds to that program to be able to accommodate folks,” said George Mensah, director of the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development. “If your home is flooded or if you have a roof issue then we will be able to assist you.”

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Books and personal documents are dried using a fan inside the home of renter Nora Trujillo, after flooding that occurred in early June 2022 in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Daniel A. Varela [email protected]

Normally, home repair grants from any government require homes to be built to code, which disqualifies many applicants. But in this case, Miami Building Department Director Asael Marrero said residents worried about code issues should not hesitate to apply.

“if you have a code violation, but the repairs you’re trying to make are life/safety related, then building will always override that and allow you to do life/safety repairs. That’s not going to hold you back,” he said.

Resources for people with flooded homes

Miami

For homeowners seeking a low-interest forgivable loan for relocation or rebuilding assistance, Miami residents can email [email protected] for an application or call 305-416-2080 to request a “Single Family Rehabilitation Application” form be mailed to your home.

https://www.miamigov.com/Housing-Assistance-Recovery/Home-Ownership/Apply-for-Single-Family-RehabilitationReplacement-Low-Income

Renters can seek help finding a new apartment after flood damage by calling the Homeless Trust at 1-877-994-4357.

https://www.miamigov.com/Housing-Assistance-Recovery/Housing-Loss-Prevention/Apply-for-Homeless-Prevention-Homeless-Rapid-Rehousing-Assistance

Miami-Dade County

The county offers a program to help low-income renters who can’t afford an upcoming jump in rent.

https://www.miamidade.gov/global/housing/emergency-rental-assistance-program.page

Miami-Dade County’s home rehabilitation program is not accepting new applications at this point. But if applications reopen, information on how to apply is listed on this site.

https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1541188139420804

Nonprofit Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade funds home repairs for low-income and veteran residents of Miami-Dade County. There’s a lengthy waiting list for help, but homeowners can still apply by emailing [email protected] for an application or calling 305-200-5711.

www.rebuildingtogethermiami.org

Miami Beach

Residents with flood damage can call the city’s grants office at 305-673-7510 to see if they qualify for any help rebuilding after a storm.

Hialeah

Low-income Hialeah residents seeking a low-interest loan to repair their homes or rental properties can call the city at 305-883-8039 to apply to the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program.

https://www.hialeahfl.gov/812/State-Housing-Initiatives-Partnership-SH

Cutler Bay

The town of Cutler Bay is offered free assessments of flood damage by town staff. The window to request an assessment closes Monday June 20.

https://www.cutlerbay-fl.gov/com-dev/webform/flood-damage-home-assessment-request

Homestead

Homestead offers a free grant for emergency repairs to low-income Homestead residents. For more information, please contact Maliqua Carter Monday through Friday at 305-224-4486.

https://www.cityofhomestead.com/139/Programs-Grants

North Miami

Residents can apply for a low-interest forgivable loan for home repairs, but the program does not open again until October.

https://www.northmiamifl.gov/245/Single-Family-Rehabilitation#:~:text=The%20program%20is%20open%20to,below%2080%20%25%20area%20median%20income.

North Miami Beach

Low-income residents can apply for grants to repair roofs, windows and doors through a new North Miami Beach program. Applications must be picked up in person at the NMB Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (17050 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach, FL 33162).

https://redevelopment.net/2022/02/city-of-north-miami-beach-economic-development-home-rehabilitation-program/

Alex Harris covers climate change for the Miami Herald, including how South Florida communities are adapting to the warming world. She attended the University of Florida.