FORT PIERCE, FL—A strong, storm-resistant roof is often the key to a home and family surviving a hurricane or another large-scale weather event. With hurricane season underway, thousands of homeowners and their families face the possibility of damage or destruction of their homes. This means displacement for many months or years, multiple insurance claims, the rising costs of rebuilding, and a reliance on governmental agencies like FEMA.
Replacing a roof can be expensive. And it’s not easy to replace a roof if you are a low-to moderate-income homeowner—working class. Predatory lenders, high interest rate credit cards, or have to go without, are just some of the risks.
Florida-based nonprofit SELF (Solar and Energy Loan Fund) and MyStrongHome have teamed up to offer homeowners an innovative way to get a stronger roof without a lot of out-of-pocket costs.
“We’re really excited about this partnership,” says MyStrongHome CEO Margot Brandenberg. “Our company started after Hurricane Sandy when we found out there are straightforward, scientifically-proven ways to make houses more resilient, and that insurance companies were willing to pay for these improvements.”
Here’s how it works:
- Stronger roofs mean insurance companies pay a lot less following a natural disaster. Florida mandates that insurance carriers provide “wind mitigation credits” for roof improvements. That can include hurricane straps, better materials and construction.
- MyStrongHome (MSH) strengthens homes and roofs through innovative financial solutions, and uses the wind credits. Credits lower insurance premiums, and pay for much of the roof cost. For example, a roof could costs $10,000, but it also reduces the homeowner’s annual insurance premium annually by $1000. That means over the course of seven years, $7,000 of the roof is paid for through the savings and the homeowner is only responsible for the remaining $3000.
- Many homeowners can’t afford $3000, and this is where SELF comes in. The nonprofit community lender provides affordable and innovative financing for sustainable home improvement projects for Florida homeowners. A low-interest rate loan of $3000 could be paid back over five years, and not upfront.
“Around 70 percent of our loans are to low and moderate income families, who are living paycheck to paycheck. This new program is a game changer, and not only for working class families. It’s also for the insurance companies and communities that benefit from stronger, and more storm resilient homes,” says SELF CFO Duanne Andrade.