JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One of the most unfortunate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic impact, is renters struggling to pay their landlords.
However, part of the recently passed economic stimulus bill is $25 billion in rental assistance under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Florida will receive about $1.4 billion of the rental assistance, according to the Nation Low Income Housing Coalition.
In a news release, Governor Ron DeSantis’ office said the state expects to distribute more than $850 million, which does not include the funding that some cities and counties in Florida with at least 200,000 residents will also receive.
The state expects the federal government to give the money to participating state and local governments in the coming weeks, but it may take some time before it gets into landlord and renter’s hands as some programs will need to be put in place.
“I would assume most are going to use the process they had for the CARES Act – tweaked to meet whatever the new requirements are – rather than creating a whole new process," said Shannon Nazworth, Ability Housing President and CEO said.
She added the City of Jacksonville is getting ready now.
“Their housing and neighborhoods department is already gearing up and ready to deploy as soon as they get the resources," Nazworth explained.
Assistance will be given to tenants who qualify under the following guidelines, according to the U.S. Treasury Department:
- Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
- Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
- Has a household income at or below 80% of the area median.
At least one person in the household must meet all three criteria. Also, people receiving assistance cannot also be receiving federal rental assistance from another source.
Once approved, the money will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers. However, in the case a landlord does not want to participate in the program, the money will be distributed to the eligible household.