If congress doesn't step in fast, many of us will soon see flood insurance premiums skyrocket.
Next Tuesday, a federal subsidy program expires, and Tampa Bay property owners and government officials are still trying to figure out what this means for their pocket books. Some are trying to get Congress to postpone the change.
Pinellas officials have been vocal about their estimates that 50,000 homes in their county will be affected. Now, Hillsborough County officials have released maps and figures. The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office says more than 21,000 homes could see rates increase dramatically.
Congress voted in 2012 to do away with a national subsidy program that has kept flood insurance affordable for many. But the national flood insurance program is running 24-billion dollars in debt. That subsidy will go away on Tuesday.
For most current homeowners, increases will be phased in at about 20 to 25 percent a year. But for those who let coverage lapse or buy new homes, the subsidy will go away completely, and all at once.
That could mean an increase of thousands of dollars a year.
Patrick Alesandrini, of the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office says homes that could be impacted are scattered throughout the county and include homes of all price ranges. He says he fears some people could be priced out of their homes. Home sales, he said, could also be impacted. Over time, home prices could decrease because buyers will have to factor in the new flood insurance rates into their buying decision.
"At the end of the day, you only have so much money is your pocket, right?" he said. "And if I have to spend 60 cents on taxes and insurance and so fourth, I only have 40 cents left to pay for groceries and everything else. If I have to spend 65 cents, that cuts back, right? Something has to give."
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