Revered for its year-round warm temperatures and relaxing lifestyle, Florida is home to the largest population of aging and elderly Americans who retire to the Sunshine State. However, Florida is also known for its disruptive weather, especially during the summer months that often bring with them devastating hurricanes and record-breaking heat waves.
2017’s hurricane season was particularly destructive in Florida. Hurricane Irma cost the state billions and took more than 70 lives. Among the victims were 12 residents of a Hollywood, Florida nursing home, who died after the facility lost power in the days following Irma’s wrath.
In response to this tragic event, a new mandate from Gov. Rick Scott requires all senior living facilities to install power generators, and to have enough fuel supply to run the generators for 72 hours. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have until July 1 to comply. Although thousands are already in compliance, many are without the financial resources required to make these expensive system upgrades.
There is a widely available, but lesser known, program that can help. Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing (C-PACE) is a program that provides business owners with funding for improvement projects such as the installation of impact-resistant windows and doors, roofing, HVAC and solar panels.
Through a voluntary assessment on their property tax bill, property owners pay for the improvement projects over time. C-PACE loans are tied to the property itself and not the property owner, offering a rare chance for property owners to overcome common barriers of the upfront costs.
Ygrene is one of the nation’s leading providers of C-PACE. Our program is currently available in more than 150 cities and counties in Florida; however, most property owners do not know that C-PACE is an option for them. In fact, a recent survey commissioned by the National Hurricane Survival Initiative revealed that less than 8% of Floridians are aware of the program.
It’s important that nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida know that they are eligible for the C-PACE program, as they all share the same goal of ensuring residents are kept safe and cared for during disasters. C-PACE providers like Ygrene can help nursing homes meet the governor’s new mandate for backup power supply, but beyond that, C-PACE is a practical option for affording other projects that will improve facility conditions for the seniors in their care.
With the official start to Florida’s hurricane season having begun on June 1, and the deadline for complying with the new state mandate just around the corner, facility upgrades for nursing homes should be a top priority.
As we all know, when the stifling heat and punishing storms hit Florida this summer, our seniors are among the most vulnerable. They’ve taken care of us, now it’s time to take care of them.
Kate Wesner is the Senior Director of Government Affairs at Ygrene, national leader in residential and commercial energy efficiency and resiliency project financing.