Florida state officials seek public input before submitting State Action Plan

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - More hurricane relief money will soon be headed to Northwest Florida, but first, state officials are looking for feedback from the public.

More hurricane relief money will soon be headed to northwest Florida. (MSNBC)

"We need to understand the impact of the hurricane, what can we do, and those needs, and provide that information to the federal government. So once we get the money, we use it well," Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson said.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is hosting a series of public workshops to gather input. The goal is to collect information to best use the $735 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lawson said housing and infrastructure make up the two major areas they have to cover.

County officials said they've been working alongside the DEO, hoping to create a win-win situation for the community.

"Where can we help the community recover and be better than what it was before?" Bay County Community Liaison Doug Moore asked. "And try to get people out of harm's way and put them in better situations than what they were before."

Housing seems to be the top priority.

"We still need work on middle-market housing, mixed-income housing, (and) multi-family apartment complexes," Moore said.

"There are quite a few people, households that are in a certain price point they can afford so we need that type of housing. But then we also need apartment complexes because there are renters," City of Panama City Community Development Director Michael Johnson said. "We still have a number of people living in FEMA trailers."

Friday's workshop will be at 9 a.m. at Gulf Coast State College's language and literature building.

The DEO will also visit Gadsden County and Jackson County.

It must finalize and submit the State Action Plan by June 1, 2020.

The workshop in Gadsden County will be February 14 at 3 p.m. at the Kelly Campbell Community Center. The workshop in Jackson County will be February 19 at 3 p.m. at the Chipola College Culture Center.

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