Orange County Mayor warns thousands could lose their homes without more federal assistance

Orange County Mayor warns thousands could lose their homes without more federal assistance

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says another round of federal funding is the only way to prevent thousands of local families from losing their homes in the coming weeks.

Those falling behind on rent right now won’t be able to get much help from their local governments now that programs- funded by the Federal CARES Act- have had to close to meet deadlines for distributing the money.

READ: Last chance: Orange County CARES Act portal closes less than an hour after opening

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Local families now facing eviction say that money has been crucial for them, especially during the holidays.

“I do need it, very badly.”

Eric Thruston says he’s been frantically trying to access the last round of financial help being offered before the federal clock runs out.

Now, he has to wait...first for his application to Orange County’s Eviction Diversion and Rental Assistance Program to be approved. Then, he’ll have to wait for the money to actually reach his landlord, which he assumed would only take a few days.

However, Mayor Demings warns, it could take a while longer...up to 30 days, in fact.

By that point, many residents will be another month behind on their rent.

The eviction diversion program buys them another 60 days to catch up before their landlord can file an eviction case against them, but most still won’t have jobs then.

“I actually got a letter from my employer extending my leave of absence through March 31,” Thruston says.

Mayor Demings says the only way to help people like Thruston will be through another round of federal aid.

“Without substantial dollars made available from our federal government, we at the local level do not have the capacity to meet the needs of all of those people,” Demings says.

With that funding, Demings says the county could organize a second eviction diversion process.

However, he says he doesn’t think it’s likely counties will see that kind of funding again, as it’s not being included in the relief bill currently being debated on Capitol Hill.

“There are certainly going to be some people, I think, who are going to unfortunately be evicted,” Demings says. “There are going to be people who are going to end up in foreclosure of their homes.”

As for stimulus checks, the current proposal calls for 600 dollars for everyone who received a 1,200 dollar payment in the last round of aid. That likely won’t be enough for many vulnerable families already so far in the hole.