Florida Democrats Introduce Bill to Finance Critical Condo Safety Repairs

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By Giselle Balido

July 12, 2022

The legislation authorizes the Federal Housing Administration to ensure repair loans for condo associations when serious problems are found.

The tragedy that some have called one of the worst disasters in Florida, if not the deadliest accidental building collapse in American history, has spurred Florida Democrats into action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium partially collapsed in the early-morning hours of June 24, 2021, costing 98 lives and leaving scores wounded and many unaccounted for.

Visible Cracks

Three years before the collapse of the 12-story sea-view development built in 1981, a report filed by a consultant engineer warned of cracking in the concrete columns, beams, and walls of the parking garage at the base of the structure. The report also stated that “most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.”

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“Clearly, our buildings need to be structurally sound. We need to have regular reviews, and to the extent that we need to change laws, we will change laws, and we will make sure these things do not happen in the future,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told CNN after the tragedy.

Following introduction of the SAFER in Condos Act, US Reps. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Sunrise) introduced the Rapid Financing for Critical Condo Repairs Act.

A Bill That Can Save Lives

This is important because, typically, condo associations delay critical repairs until they can collect special assessments from owners sufficient to begin repairs. The legislation introduced by the Florida Democrats authorizes the Federal Housing Administration to ensure critical repair loans for condo associations, “giving lenders the certainty to make the loan,” the state representatives said in a statement.

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“The Champlain Towers condo collapse brought to light the serious flaws in how condo buildings are maintained and repaired—and we must do all we can to avoid another tragedy,” said Crist who, with Wasserman Schultz, immediately after the tragedy secured funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to investigate building collapses like the one that occurred at Surfside.

Timely Access to Financing Is Crucial

“To save lives, associations should have access to financing as soon as a critical problem is found. As we saw in Surfside, waiting for special assessments to be collected can cause deadly delays. Our bill would provide an immediate financing option to begin repairs and keep residents safe and, in their homes,” added Crist, who is running for governor in November against incumbent Republican Ron DeSantis.

For her part, Wasserman Schultz pointed out that homeowners can finance both the purchase of a house and its rehabilitation costs, but condominiums are not eligible. “This commonsense legislation offers a solution to help condo owners and associations to obtain financing for needed repairs and ensure their buildings are safe.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. At this time, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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