ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Minutes after Orange County opened its application process for federal CARES Act money to help individuals and families amid the coronavirus, the county was forced to close applications due to an overwhelming response.
Beginning Monday at 8 a.m. Orange County residents and small business owners could apply for a slice of federal CARES Act funding through the county’s website OCFL.net/OrangeCares, however, less than 20 minutes later the county closed applications for families and individuals.
The county is still accepting applications for small businesses seeking CARES Act funding up to $10,000.
“Due to an overwhelming response, the Individual and Family Assistance Program has already received more than 2,000 applications,” the tweet said. “We have closed the portal for today, but will reopen on 6/10. Visit ocfl.net/OrangeCARES for a schedule of dates when the application will reopen.”
Tweets from the county show it started responding to frustrated applicants minutes after the application site went live.
Multiple people have reported they were unable to apply prior to 8 a.m. when the portal was expected to go live.
According to a timeline provided by the county, the application portal was made live at 7:48 a.m. The first application was started at 7:54 a.m. and within the same minute, the portal was closed because there were 2,000 users in the portal.
The portal was published a few minutes before launch to make sure it was ready for applicants in time, according to the county.
Anyone eligible for the Small Business Grant Program or the Individual and Family Assistance Program can apply but those interested are urged to get all their documents in order before applying.
Businesses can receive up to $10,000 in funding and individual can receive up to $1,000 to help pay for their rent, mortgage or medical bills.
On Friday, when asked if Orange County’s website would be ready to handle the demand when applications opened Mayor Jerry Demings said the county has added staff to handle the surge.
“When we open the system up we should be able to adequately process applications,” Demings said. “(We) will process, a few thousand, make certain that we get all of them done and we will reopen and reopen where we have a measured approach that is built into the system to manage the demand.”
The county has $72.9 million set aside for business assistance and $72.9. million set aside for individual and family assistance from the Cares Act grant.
The grant money will be highly sought after due to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Since March, more than 2 million people have filed for unemployment in Florida alone.
According to the county’s website, the application process for individuals and families will reopen every other Wednesday and Saturday, accepting 1,000 new applications on each day.
The program continues until Dec. 19, or until all funds have been exhausted. There will be multiple chances for people to apply for assistance, according to the county. The full schedule of application dates can be found here.