Seminole County launches mortgage relief program

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida. — The Seminole County government on Monday opened a new app portal to provide emergency mortgage payment assistance to residents. The program will distribute $1.6 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

“This is a difficult process to put in place in the very long term and we did it in a very short time,” said Lee Constantine, chairman of the Seminole County Board of Commissioners.

The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMAP) is designed to help homeowners pay their mortgage or utilities if they face financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. The county expects to be able to help about 300 households.

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“I applied for at least a thousand jobs without success,” said Margo Stuckey-Creenan, who is asking for help. “I don’t have enough money to pay rent.”

Approved applicants will not be required to repay any grants received under the program.

The online portal, available at SeminoleEMAP.com, will open Monday at 10 a.m. and will close once 500 entries have been submitted. Completed applications will be reviewed in the order in which they were received, county leaders said.

“We are committed here in Seminole County to bringing the resources to the citizens who need them most. Those who have been hit so hard by this pandemic,” Constantine said.

Eligible households must have an overdue balance due to COVID-19 and be able to demonstrate a loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic. Households must also have an income at or below 80% of the region’s median. In Seminole County, that would mean a two-person household with a salary of $48,850 or less.

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County officials recommend homeowners gather the necessary documents before applying.

“We have staff here who will help each person upload and scan their documents,” said Allison Thall, director of community services.

Stuckey-Creenan said she appreciated the help in making sure she submitted her application correctly.

“Nothing like face-to-face contact and the feeling that you’ve spoken to someone, they know who you are and what you’re trying to deal with,” she said.

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