IN RESPONSE TO THE OVERWHELMING HOUSING needs of Florida's hurricane victims, Jim Walter Homes extended a helping hand. Qualified buyers have been able to take advantage of no payments for six months with builder financing. In addition, the Tampa-based builder has offered a 5 percent discount on nearly all of its models to customers who sustained damage from the onslaught of storms.

“This was an unusually destructive hurricane season: Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne all ran right through our home state and affected homeowners throughout our market area,” says JWH president Lawrence Comegys.

“Six months without payments can go a long way toward helping families get back on their feet after a loss,” he says, adding that the offer is extended through Dec. 31, 2004.

Throughout the state, builders have pitched in—often going above and beyond in the communities they serve—repairing homes that were no longer under warranty and offering general help to home buyers. Working with other associations and trade groups, the Florida Home Builders Association helped establish a Disaster Contractors Network to provide homeowners with information and organize contractors who are able to assist with the reconstruction process.

But JWH's financially oriented goodwill appears to be unprecedented. “We hope these opportunities will help people in the affected areas get into safe and secure housing quickly and affordably,” says Comegys.