Orange County

Orange County applications for COVID-19 relief closed after an hour Monday, reopens next week

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County residents who are struggling financially due to the coronavirus will once again have to wait for aid after the county closed its application for its Individual and Family Assistance Program.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said he expects the application to reopen in a week, after Monday’s applications are reviewed. Individuals were able to apply for $1,000 in aid beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, but saw the portal close about an hour later.

The county made some changes for a smoother process. Among those changes, the county said those approved will get a check that goes straight to them instead of their landlord or utility company.

James Simon, like many, lives paycheck to paycheck. That put him in a tough spot when the COVID-19 pandemic caused him to be furloughed in March.

He lost his car because he couldn’t make the payment. Now, he’s worried about his home because he’s three months behind on rent.

“July’s coming up and it’s going to be four months,” Simon said. “So, we really need that help.”

That “we” refers to he and his mother.

"I take care of my mom. She doesn't live with me, but I have to buy medicine for her,” Simon said.

Read: Orange County online applications for COVID-19 relief closes after receiving 50,000 applications, will reopen Wednesday

He’s been trying to apply for a $1,000 grant through Orange County’s assistance program since it kicked off last week.

“The second time I tried, I tried the whole day and I couldn’t go through because it wouldn’t let me go past my driver’s license.”

But Monday went much better for him.

“This morning I woke up early in hopes that I could get the application done,” Simon said. “So, I tried a couple of times. There were some glitches here (and)there, but I was able to do the application in less than 10 minutes.”

Before Monday’s closing, the county planned to open the portal on days they never intended, but it is also allowing numbers of applicants more than 10 times the number they originally planned by permitting up to 25,000 applicants.

Last Monday, when the application process began, the first cut-off number of 2,000 was reached within minutes.

Businesses that qualify can use the money to make up for lost revenue, but it does come with some strings attached. Qualifying businesses must have fewer than 25 employees, including the owner in some cases.

Businesses with unpaid liens or evidence of financial mismanagement will not qualify.

Simon has some advice for those struggling during tough times.

“Just keep pushing. Keep your heads up. Don’t let it get to you. Try to find a way to smile every day," he said.

Read: Next stimulus: What is a payroll tax cut and how much money would it mean to you?

Residents or business owners looking for assistance can find more information here.


Steve Barrett

Steve Barrett, WFTV.com

Reporter Steve Barrett returned to WFTV in mid-2017 after 18 months in the Twin Cities, where he worked as Vice President of Communications for an Artificial Intelligence software firm aligned with IBM.

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