Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday said his administration is sending counties in Florida financial aid for housing and rent through the CARES Act.
The governor held a news conference in Apopka to discuss the latest coronavirus updates, where he announced the approval to release $75 million to local governments to help Floridians in need of rental and mortgage assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the CARES Act, the governor made available $250 million, of which $120 million will be sent to local governments to provide rental and mortgage assistance programs, according to a news release from the governor’s office. The $75 million approved Friday is the first release of funding for local governments.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruption to families throughout the state,” Gov. DeSantis said. “It is my hope that these funds and the rest of the $250 million will provide some level of relief to individuals who—through no fault of their own—are now having difficulty making ends meet.”
The $75 million includes allocations to many local governments in Florida, but DeSantis went to Apopka to highlight the $7.3 million Orange County is going to get.
“As Floridians continue to struggle with the negative economic impacts of COVID-19, Florida Housing remains committed to providing renters and homeowners with housing assistance,” said Trey Price, Executive Director of Florida Housing Finance Corporation. “We are proud to stand with the Governor to ensure affordable housing remains a top priority, and that families have the necessary assistance to remain in their homes during these difficult times.”
Homeowners and renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for the following assistance through a local State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program housing office:
- Rental and mortgage assistance payments for persons who experienced a hardship that prevents them from making these payments
- Emergency repair
- Rehabilitation and New Construction related specifically to a need caused by the COVID-19 emergency
Those who would rather speak to a representative can call the toll-free Coronavirus Relief Fund for Impacted Homeowners and Renters Information Line 1-888-362-7885, starting Monday, July 20 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
“I’m living week to week right now. I have $100 to my name and I don’t know of any other programs out there,” said LaTasha Arnold, the Co-Chair of the Palm Beach County Tenants Association, who has been looking for rental assistance herself after seeing fewer clients coming in to her hairdressing business.
Arnold also said applications for current Palm Beach County housing programs can prove difficult for some groups to fill out and hopes the county will streamline the process on a number of their applications, especially after receiving these new funds.
“A lot of people don’t have scanners, some people don’t have internet, some people don’t have computers,” she said. “Citizens need more rent assistance long-term because this is going to be a long-going thing.”
Arnold advised people who are having difficulty paying their rent to speak to their landlords about the issue. Experts advise doing the same with your bank or lender if you’re falling behind on mortgage payments.
“Try to get some compassion,” she said. “See if they’ll work with you.”