Orange County rental assistance program ending Wednesday after overwhelming response

Orange County rental assistance program ending Wednesday after overwhelming response
Orange County leaders announced Tuesday the county will end its rental assistance program after an “overwhelming response.” (WFTV.com News Staff)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orange County leaders announced Tuesday the county will end its rental assistance program after an “overwhelming response” from more than 20,000 applications.

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The program and the hotline set up to answer questions will both end at 5 p.m. on April 1.

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“We ask for residents’ patience as we process their applications and appointments,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “We have increased our staff and our facilities to accommodate the demand. We will bring the program’s additional funding needs to our Orange County Board of County Commissioners at an upcoming board meeting.”

The Orange County COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program was launched by Demings on Friday, March 20. This was a one-time benefit for one month’s rent assistance for Orange County residents only with specific qualifications, officials said.

On March 26, it encouraged people to apply online since the hotline was overwhelmed.

Officials said the program, which is taxpayer funded, was initially set up to help 1,500 families with a budget of $1.8 million. They said they will process all applications filed before the deadline.

So far the staff has scheduled meetings with about 500 applicants. As of Tuesday morning, about 40 checks have been cut to landlords.

One resident said the service shutting down is “unfortunate.”

“I’m not surprised,” she said. “There are many of us trying to keep the roofs over our heads.”