Shared from the 7/22/2020 Panama City eEdition

OPINION

Rehousing and revitalizing Bay County

Amid challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Panama City and Bay County continue to push forward to provide housing assistance for Hurricane Michael survivors.

With nearly 5,000 families displaced in the wake of Hurricane Michael, we all know how critical housing is for our long-term recovery. Housing serves as the foundation for our well-being and our local economy. Understanding this, the City and County are aggressively charging ahead to address housing needs to come back even stronger.

In June we launched a new housing initiative, ReHouse Bay, to help residents explore and access housing assistance online. Drawing on the vision outlined in Bay County’s Long-Term Recovery Plan, ReHouse Bay is focused on offering affordable, sustainable, and resilient options for our community’s residents, builders, contractors, realtors and lenders.

Currently, ReHouse Bay offers programs that rebuild or repair homes damaged by Hurricane Michael, help impacted residents purchase new homes, provide new affordable housing options, and long-term rental, foreclosure and utility assistance.

You can now visit www.rehousebay.org to learn more about available housing assistance options and complete a short questionnaire that helps determine which program might be right for you.

Online visitors can submit an application conveniently and safely from home or download and print an application for submission at Panama City’s City Hall.

The ReHouse Bay initiative will help us reach as many eligible applicants as possible and efficiently distribute the $36 million in housing assistance funding recently appropriated by the Florida Legislature.

Since the website’s launch last month, my department has received over 400 applications for assistance. The volume of applications demonstrates the gravity of our current housing environment and the importance of ReHouse Bay programs.

On behalf of Bay County and our local partners, we respectfully ask our community partners and residents to help spread the word about the ReHouse Bay initiative and its online offerings.

Go to www.rehousebay.org to learn more and share this resource with family members, friends, colleagues and your social media networks.

Investing in housing will not only support our community’s recovery from Hurricane Michael; it will also spur long-term economic and community development. We’re working hard to improve quality of life by rebuilding, rehousing, and revitalizing Bay County.

Michael Johnson is Director, Community Development for Panama City/

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