By: Molly Duerig | Central Florida News 13
STATE — Across Central Florida, people are struggling to make ends meet. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the region faced an affordable housing crisis.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition in 2019 ranked the Orlando metro area of Orlando, Kissimmee, and Sanford as the least affordable place in the country to live.
The global pandemic and resulting surge in unemployment mean people are in dire need of help – particularly when it comes to making rent and mortgage payments. Florida got access to more CARES Act funding for just that purpose last month, when Gov. Ron DeSantis released $75 million across the counties. Now, it’s up to counties and cities to decide how to disburse their allotted shares out to residents.
Some have expressed concern about how quickly the funding might be disbursed. Florida’s first batch of CARES Act funding, doled out to the state’s 12 largest counties by population size, is still being deployed almost two months later.
The funding itself was not distributed to localities until two months after the governor received it.
“We have a huge need for the money, we have a huge amount of money. And the connection needs to be made to make sure that that money can be deployed quickly,” said Jaimie Ross, CEO of Florida Housing Coalition.
Each locality is responsible for creating its own system to get the money out to residents.
“What we have seen with the first batch of money that went to the 12 largest counties is, in some cases, it has not been deployed quickly,” Ross said. “So we want to learn from some of the issues that they’ve had, and make sure that the very best process is put in place so that we get that money deployed quickly.”
Here is a breakdown of where the application process for the most recent batch of this funding currently stands for Central Florida counties. Check back for the most recent updates.
Orange County: $7.26 million ($5.7 million of that allocated for Orange County, and the rest for Orlando)
Orange County and the City of Orlando both say they are working on hammering out the details for how this batch of CARES Act funding will be disbursed.
Osceola County: $2.49 million ($1.98 million of that for Osceola County and the rest for Kissimmee)
The county is still in the approval process to access the latest batch of funds, with the final budget document planned to go to the Board of Commissioners at the August 10 meeting. However, Osceola County residents looking for rent/mortgage assistance may apply for previously-accessed CARES funding through 8 a.m. on Monday, August 10 here.
After the application period, each application will be assigned a “lottery” number and selected through a random, computer-generated process. Selected applications will be processed accordingly until this round of funding has been exhausted. Applicants will still need to meet certain criteria to be eligible.
Osceola County will provide eligible applicants with three months of rent or mortgage payments, up to a maximum of $5,000 per household.
Volusia County: $1.76 million ($1.24 million of that for Volusia County and the rest for Daytona Beach and Deltona)
At this time the county does not have an approved plan for how it will disperse the most recent CARES funds. However, Volusia County residents looking for rent/mortgage assistance may apply for $12.5 million in previously-accessed CARES funding right now on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Brevard County: $1.76 million ($975,605 of that for Brevard County, the rest for Cocoa, Melbourne, Palm Bay and Titusville)
The County is discussing the Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s agreement for the funds at Tuesday evening’s commission meeting.
“We will start to expend funds following approval of the agreement,” said Don Walker, director of communications for the county.
Seminole County: $1.1 million
The portal for applying for funding is anticipated to open at the end of August. Each family or individual will be eligible for up to $5,000 for up to three months of assistance.