Voluntary Home Buyout Program

Program Background

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity allocated $15 Million of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds to the Monroe County Voluntary Home Buyout Program.  

These funds will allow Monroe County to purchase the property and the home of voluntary sellers who were impacted by Hurricane Irma. The home will be demolished and the land will serve as open space in perpetuity. If deemed necessary, the land may also be used for stormwater management or recreational purposes. Participating homeowners may decline to sell their home at any point prior to the closing.

Program Registration Period closed 5 p.m. June 5, 2023.

In order to ensure county residents had an opportunity to express interest in participating in the program, and to ensure the use of as much of the available grant funds as possible, the County conducted two registration periods.  The first registration period was in 2019, and in the fall of 2021 the Board of County Commissioners opened a second registration period.  

The Voluntary Home Buyout Program grant agreement ends June 3, 2024. To complete all grant activities by the end date of the agreement, the registration period closed on June 5, 2023.  The registration period closure date was posted on this Voluntary Home Buyout Program website on May 4, 2023 to provide ample time to potentially interested county residents to submit a registration form prior to the June 5, 2023 deadline.  

Program Implementation

Properties will be prioritized by the most vulnerable populations located in low- and moderate-income areas, and those at the highest risk for future flooding. In addition to the State required criteria that prioritized vulnerable populations, Monroe County submitted a proposed risk-based local point prioritization system which was approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

This program, if used in conjunction with the County’s sustainability infrastructure rebuilding program, will allow the County to approach a “managed retreat” to build a stronger community.

In order to implement the VHBP, Monroe County sought the technical expertise and staff augmentation of experienced vendor services in the areas of administrative support, survey, appraisals, legal and closings, environmental assessments, historical assessments, and demolition services. Contracts awarded to support the program are as follows:

Estimated Timeline 

Roadmap image

HUD Fair Housing Logo which is a house outline with an equal sign in it
HUD logo with a ribbon and the contact information for HUD
  1. Cynthia Guerra

    Acquisition Manager, VHBP Fair Housing Coordinator

Vicki Boguszewski

Monroe County Case Manager
Email: Vicki Boguszewski
Phone: 786-643-3695

Maria Covelli

Grant Coordinator
City of Marathon
Email: Maria Covelli
Phone: 305-743-0033 x4109
City of Marathon Program Page

Subrecipient Agreement Executed

The Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Voluntary Home Buyout Program sub-recipient agreement between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners was fully executed on June 4, 2020.

Tier 1 Environmental Review Record Approved

Monroe County received the approval of the required Tier 1 Environmental Review of the program in December of 2020.  The links below provide access to the related documents:

Monroe County Voluntary Home Buyout Program Guidelines

The Monroe County Program Guidelines were finalized as of February 2021. The provisions within the guidelines are amended over time as needed, in accordance with the requirements of the sub-recipient agreement.

Voluntary Home Buyout Program - Complaint and Appeal Process

Citizens and applicants who are dissatisfied with functions or decisions undertaken as part of the Voluntary Home Buyout Program may file a complaint or appeal.  Monroe County has established a complaint and appeals process to address citizen concerns and applicant grievances. The purpose of these procedures is to set forth guidelines for processing complaints and appeals to address grievances or concerns by participants in Monroe County's Voluntary Home Buyout Program.  The Monroe County Voluntary Home Buyout Program will accept informal verbal complaints and/or formal written complaints regarding the activities undertaken by the VHBP. Complaints will be reviewed in a progressive order and evaluated by program staff and elevated to the appropriate County staff for consideration if necessary.  Appeals will also be reviewed in a progressive order and evaluated by County staff for consideration, with a progressive elevation of appeals to the Board of County Commission making the ultimate decision on the limited appeal items. 

The complaint and appeal process is detailed on page 34 in the Voluntary Home Buyout Program Guidelines.  

For assistance with the VHBP complaint process, call Cynthia Guerra at 305-453-8756 or email Buyouts@monroecounty-fl.gov

Anti-Fraud and Compliance Policy

Monroe County will aggressively investigate all allegations of misconduct, fraud, waste, or abuse regarding eligibility and the disbursement of award amounts to applicants.  With the assistance of our grant management contractor, processes have been developed to ensure applicant information is verified and systems are in place to detect and prevent fraud, waste, or abuse.  All suspected cases of fraud, waste, or abuse shall be referred to the HUD Office of Inspector General Hotline at 800-347-3735, 800-877-8339 TTY/ASCII, or by submitting a report online at www.hudoig.gov/hotline.  

Citizen Participation Plan

The primary goal of this Citizen Participation Plan is to provide all citizens of the community with adequate opportunity to participate in and be advised on the implementation of Monroe County’s CDBG-DR funded VHBP. Citizens are encouraged to participate in all phases of the program and will be provided full access to program information. Final responsibility and authority for the development and implementation of the program will lie with Monroe County.

More Information

Interested homeowners can find more information on the DEO website.

Citizen Complaint Policy for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Mitigation Programs (CDBG-MIT)

On May 20, 2020, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved the Citizen Complaint Procedure for CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT programs for which the county was pursuing grant support.  Citizens with comments or complaints regarding the Voluntary Home Buyout Program should follow the Voluntary Home Buyout Complaint and Appeal Process described above.  For assistance with the Voluntary Home Buyout Program, call Cynthia Guerra at 305-453-8756 or email Buyouts@monroecounty-fl.gov.  The following applies to other Monroe County CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT programs:

Citizens are encouraged to submit their views and proposals on all aspects of a Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) at public hearings when funds are requested and approved by the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners. Citizens may, at any time, submit written comments or complaints to Monroe County to the contact listed below.  Local officials shall make every effort to provide written responses to citizen proposals or complaints within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of such comments or complaints where practicable. Should, after a reasonable period, a party believes that his/her comment or complaint has not been properly addressed or considered, then the aggrieved may appeal his/her case to Monroe County Board of County Commissioners at any regularly scheduled public meeting.

Should Monroe County be unable to sufficiently resolve an objection or complaint, it may be forwarded by the aggrieved party to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) at the contact listed below.  The state will make every effort to provide a timely written response within 15 working days of the receipt of the complaint, where practicable. The aim of the state will be to always attempt to resolve complaints in a manner that is both sensitive to the complainant’s concerns and achieves a fair result.

Citizens may, at any time, contact the DEO and/or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development directly to register comments, objections, or complaints concerning Monroe County CDBG application(s) and/or program(s). Citizens are encouraged, however, to attempt to resolve any complaints at the local level as outlined above prior to contacting the DEO or HUD.

All comments or complaints may be submitted to the following:

Monroe County CDBG Programs
102050 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
Rebuild Florida Constituent Services
Rebuild Florida Program
107 E. Madison Street
Caldwell Building, MSC 160
Tallahassee, Florida 32399            

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Community Planning and Development Division
Atlanta Regional Office
Five Points Plaza Building
40 Marietta Street
Atlanta, Fa 30303-2806

Records of all comments, objections, and/or complaints by citizens concerning the Monroe County CDBG programs and subsequent action taken in response to those comments will be maintained on file at Monroe County and shall be made available for public inspection upon request.

Complaint files will include the following:

  1.  The name of the person who filed the complaint;
  2. The date the complaint was received;
  3. A description of the complaint;
  4. The name of each person contacted in relation to the complaint;
  5. A summary of the results of the review or investigation of the complaint; and
  6. An explanation of the resolution (e.g., the reason the file was closed).