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State approves $45 million in COVID-19 relief funds

Star Staff Report

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that the Board of Directors for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) approved the remaining $45 million of the $120 million to local governments to assist Floridians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with rental and mortgage assistance. 

Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), additional funds were previously approved to assist tenants living at multifamily and special needs developments in Florida Housing’s rental housing portfolio. 

The Board of County Commissioners provided a process for residents to receive up to $2,000 for rental, mortgage or utility assistance. 

The fund uses roughly $150,000 in CARES funding previously earmarked for the county, so the hope was to assist as many as 75 families. 

As of the last report, just nine residents had applied for assistance, none seeking the maximum amount. 

“We strongly encourage Florida families who have been affected by this pandemic and need rental or mortgage assistance to reach out to housing offices within their local governments for more information on how they might receive assistance,” DeSantis said.  

“As we continue to implement additional funding resources, our work with Florida Housing aims to alleviate some of the stress we know individuals are facing as a result of COVID-19.” 

Coronavirus Relief Fund updates are as follows: 

Strategy 1- $120 Million for Rental Assistance for Tenants in Florida Housing’s Portfolio 

To date, a total of 548 affordable multifamily rental housing developments in Florida Housing’s portfolio have responded to the Invitation to Participate in the program. 

Property owners and managers indicate with this funding they will be able to provide assistance to over 10,000 rental households in Florida. 

Strategy 2- $120 Million for Rental and Mortgage Assistance for Homeowners and Renters 

Since the announcement of this program, more than 80 percent of all local government entities have signed their funding agreements and begun the process of providing rental and mortgage assistance for individuals and families impacted by the pandemic in Florida. Within funding guidelines, participating local governments have the ability to prioritize how the resource will be utilized in their communities. 

Strategy 3- $2 Million for Operations Assistance for Housing that Serves Persons with Special Needs or Homeless Households 

33 special needs developments (representing 2,191 units) in Florida Housing’s portfolio responded to the Invitation to Participate in the program. 

Financial assistance will be provided to these developments to assist them with coronavirus related expenses including extra staffing and cleaning services and supplies that will help keep their residents with special needs healthy during the pandemic 

Agreements have been sent out to the eligible developments. 

In June, DeSantis and Florida Housing first announced the $250 million to assist Floridians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with rental and mortgage assistance. Impacted homeowners and renters can still apply for funding assistance through their local government housing office. 

In Gulf County, that is the county’s SHIP offices. 

The toll-free Coronavirus Relief Fund for Impacted Homeowners and Renters Information Line is available from 9 am - 7 pm for those who would like to speak directly with a representative: 1-888-362-7885.