With the final six homes completed and turned over to homeowners on Front Street in Century on Friday, Aug. 10, Escambia County is closing its tornado recovery efforts under the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, or SHIP, Program.
The homeowners received their keys on Friday and were able to begin moving back into their homes, which were heavily damaged or destroyed by the February 2016 tornado in Century. The county received special SHIP disaster funding from the state to provide repair and replacement housing assistance for income-eligible households affected by one of the two tornadoes that struck Escambia County in February 2016.
Through the SHIP program, Escambia County replaced 17 homes damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes.
Those receiving assistance for replacement housing under the SHIP program received loans from the county to cover reconstruction of their homes and other associated costs, such as surveys and demolition. Program terms are a five-year, 0 percent interest deferred payment mortgage that will be forgiven at the end of the five years, provided the owners are not in default of any program requirements, including payment of property taxes, current property insurance, and occupying the home as the primary residence.
The county directly solicited construction bids for the six homes on Front Street, which is located within the National Register-listed Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company Residential Historic District, in order to meet town of Century and state of Florida historic preservation guidelines. The other 11 SHIP homes were constructed through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
The county completed 11 disaster repair projects with SHIP funding, with four repairs inside the town of Century limits, two within the city of Pensacola limits, and five in the unincorporated area of the county. Additionally, SHIP funds were used to demolish two tornado damaged structures.
The completion of repairs and replacement housing represents a significant collaboration between Escambia County, the city of Pensacola, the town of Century, Legal Services of North Florida, the Escambia County Housing Finance Authority, the Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies, United Way, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida Inc., St. Vincent de Paul Society and many other volunteer organizations. These agencies have collectively provided financing, facilitated applicant intake, served as the case managers, worked on legal issues to help owners gain a clear title, furnished replacement household goods, delivered temporary rental assistance while owners were displaced, and provided construction oversight and labor.