Bay County reallocates $9.5 million in state funds to help residents purchase homes

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PANAMA CITY — Bay County Commissioner Doug Moore says it is "humbling" to know he and other officials are helping residents buy homes.

Bay County commissioners on Tuesday reallocated Hurricane Michael recovery funds from the state so more residents could receive financial assistance to purchase a home.

"We've (already) helped a lot of families," Commissioner Doug Moore said. "It is exceptionally humbling to know that we've been able to help these families achieve their dreams and be able to help give them some security."

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Bay County officials on Tuesday reallocated about $9.5 million in state funding to help more residents receive financial assistance to buy homes.
Bay County officials on Tuesday reallocated about $9.5 million in state funding to help more residents receive financial assistance to buy homes.

Moore said that after Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle in October 2018, Bay County was awarded $28 million through the state's Hurricane Housing Recovery Program. This was created to help residents get back on their feet after the Category 5 storm.

Officials allocated those funds to multiple housing-assistance strategies, which assist select residents in rehabbing damaged properties, paying for rent and purchasing new homes.

Of those, purchasing assistance was the most sought-out strategy, Moore noted, which drove officials to reallocate funds Tuesday.

"We've just had a lot more success, a lot more traction with it than with these other (strategies)," he said. "We burned through (our) initial allocation for purchase assistance ... so we voted to move funds from these other strategies where there wasn't traction into this area where there was."

Funds will help those with pending applications

Officials initially allocated $10 million in HHRP funds to purchasing assistance, and about $9.5 million more was reallocated to the strategy Tuesday.

This will not allow new residents to apply for assistance, but rather help those with pending applications. More than 150 people applied to receive purchasing assistance before the county paused the strategy a few weeks ago. Officials still are looking for additional funding sources to help more residents.

Since Bay County launched its housing-assistance program in January, almost 100 people have used HHRP funds to buy homes with an average sales price of $214,000.

"Even with moving this money, we've already got a lot of applications in, (so) it's not going to be able to help new people apply," Moore said. "We're trying to use the success that we've had ... to go back and try to secure additional funds (from the state) to help (more) families."

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Hurricane Michael recovery funds moved by Bay County for home purchases