ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A new rental assistance program is on the way, and it’s expected to hand out more money to people than any other time during the pandemic.
The federally-funded emergency rental assistance had only applied to those who experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19, even if it was indirectly.
Now, it will include anyone who suffered from financial hardship during the pandemic.
The first round of emergency rental assistance was given to the landlords, so they had the option to turn the money down if they wanted to evict a tenant.
Shanna Moore said like so many others when COVID-19 began, it hit her pocketbook hard.
“I was laid off for about nine months, so it was a struggle for me,” she said.
During that time, Moore had few options and relied on the county’s assistance program to keep a roof over her head.
The county has already handed out $25 million in the first round of the emergency rental assistance program, and another $16 million is up for grabs.
“There have been limitations on landlords actually accepting the money or applying,” said Commissioner Mayra Uribe.
This time, that’s not the case. According to federal guidelines, if a landlord does refuse, the county will give the money directly to the renter.
That person will have to sign a document stating they will spend it on housing, and not something else.
“We have some amazing staff here in Orange County that will make sure that the integrity of this program stays so that we can help as many people as possible,” Uribe said.
The maximum income requirement for round one was about $42,000.
The county will be hashing out the final details before approving the new program at the next commission meeting on Tuesday.
Moore said she is hopeful the new rule changes make a difference.
“Because of inflation and rates, everyone is suffering from rental. They need help, just like I do,” Moore said.
While every county will have access to this bundle of federal funds, the amount that they have left over is different.
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