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State of Florida 'SHIP' Program
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- It sounds almost too good to be true. A program that helps people pay for home repairs, or even down payments.
It's called "SHIP", or State Housing Initiatives Partnership.
Laura Hussey "Nikki Smalls doesn't have a lot of time to enjoy this beautiful back porch. She works full time, supporting her three kids and her elderly mother.
When it came to getting repairs on this 1972 house, she had no idea how she'd pay for them"
Then, Nikki found the SHIP program.
It helps people with low and moderate incomes make their homes safe and energy efficient.
Nikki "They did much more than what I thought they'd ever do"
There's a new roof instead of the old leaky one.
New windows, instead of ones that wouldn't open.
New wiring, instead of fire hazards.
Nikki "I've had the fire department out twice, for smelling smoke behind the walls because of the electrical panels having older wiring, and it no longer has that"
SHIP is a state program, paid for by document taxes on real estate transactions.
People have to meet income guidelines, and there's usually a waiting list.
Nikki "They didn't treat us like here's a handout for you, but they treated us as a homeowner that they're assisting, and we appreciated the dignity that they used"
Director Jim Robbins says dozens of homes were rehabbed through SHIP last year, and one family got help with a home purchase.
Jim Robbins "It's just total, they're overwhelmed and I have seen clients come in and shed tears because, tears of joy"
This fiscal year, SHIP has been allocated 376,000 dollars for Okaloosa County.
People can apply through the Community Development Corporation.
Nikki "Right now to this day, everyday that I come home from Crestview, I'm saying I thank God for this home, I thank God for this place. I'm pretty proud of it"
Laura Hussey "Okaloosa County can be very proud of its SHIP program. The just won a statewide award for partnership with other community agencies.