APOPKA, Florida. — The first steps in Florida’s distribution of $250 million in federal CARES Act money to fund rent and mortgage assistance began Friday when counties began receiving checks.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Apopka on Friday to provide initial disbursement details in what his office called “a major announcement.”
The initiative was made public late last month and leaders said $120 million would go to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, another $120 would be distributed to counties and the remaining $10 million would cover operating costs. .
FHFC will distribute the $120 million it receives to multi-family affordable rental units in its portfolio to help eligible households pay their rent during the eligible months of July through December. If necessary, households can apply for assistance to cover rent arrears accumulated during the months of April, May and June.
On Friday, $75 million was approved for distribution to counties across the state.
“Obviously there will be more to come,” DeSantis said.
Orange County will receive $7.26 million — one of the highest amounts of any county — while Seminole County will receive $1.1 million and Osceola County received $2.5 million. millions of dollars.
“So I definitely think here in Central Florida it’s going to fill a really big need. This $250 million statewide program with CARES Act money for rental and housing assistance, you know, we think it can confront and solve at least some of this uncertainty, economic anxiety and general stress that so many of our residents have felt over these many months, so I appreciate being able to do this here in Central Florida,” DeSantis said.
Already, many counties in central Florida have developed programs to provide rental and mortgage assistance to those struggling to pay their bills as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Orange County rental assistance portal opened Monday for the fifth and what could have been the last time.
The program allocated $36.5 million to help 30,000 families. Already 21,000 applications have been approved and the county has approved the payment of $21 million to families in need, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Demings was also present for DeSantis’ announcement on Friday and thanked the governor for the additional financial support.
“It has certainly caused significant challenges for those here within this community. Our pre-COVID unemployment rate was around 3.3%. It climbed to 13.3%. So I know it puts a lot of pressure on families to be able to care for loved ones and have adequate funding to pay for housing and so those funds will go a long way,” Demings said.
Representatives from Orange, Seminole, Marion and Sumter counties said they don’t yet have plans in place to distribute the money. A Brevard County spokesperson said the County Board of Commissioners will have to make a decision on how the funds are allocated.
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