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CARES Act portal to reopen to Orange County residents next week

Portal again overwhelmed Monday in county’s third attempt

CARES Act portal closes after 50,000 Orange County applications started in 90 minutes
CARES Act portal closes after 50,000 Orange County applications started in 90 minutes

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After becoming overwhelmed for a third time by the number of residents trying to apply for federal CARES Act funding, Orange County leaders have announced plans to reopen the application portal next week.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the portal will open on Monday for a fourth time to Orange County residents hoping to get help with bills or rent due to financial hardship caused by the coronavirus.

The announcement came Monday afternoon after the portal shut down Monday morning about an hour after it opened to applicants for a third time at 8 a.m.

According to the county, 25,000 users visited the application portal and 15,388 applications were submitted Monday before it closed for application processing.

County officials said the program has now received a total of 18,889 applications, 1,105 of which have been approved. More than 150 applications have been denied and 60 are pending a supervisor’s review.

“The total number of applications submitted so far -- these are people who access the website who completed everything for the family and individual CARES Act funding -- about 19,000 people have completed applications,” Demings said. “That’s from last week to this week.”

Demings said the most recently submitted applications will be reviewed before the portal reopens next week.

“We’re going to process the ones that we have now, get through those and a week from today we’ll open it up again,” Demings said.

The business applications have gone more smoothly for the county and did not see the same issues the individual application portal experienced in previous openings, according to officials. Demings said about 3,800 applications have been submitted for the business crisis assistance.

“And there’s about $4 million there that’s already been approved for payments to small businesses in $10,000 grant applications,” Demings said.

The CARES Act grant port opened to a rough start last week causing the county to shut it down one minute after it was schedule to go live on the first day and it remained open for 90 minutes on the second day due to an overwhelming response.

The grant money is highly sought after due to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Since March, more than 2.2 million people have filed for unemployment in Florida alone.

On Thursday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said since the applications opened last Monday about $2 million had already been allocated to families and individuals.

The county has $72.9 million total to provide up to $1,000 to families and individuals, as well as $72.9 million set aside for business assistance from the federal CARES Act grant.

“We’ve got a long way to go, fortunately, we have $72.9 million that ultimately we want to get in the hands of families and individuals," Demings said last week. "So we’re asking our community to be patient with us while we help you.”

Demings acknowledge the county is still working to smooth out wrinkles in the application process.

Anyone interested in applying is asked to go to to ocfl.net/OrangeCARES so they can see the list of required documents and get those in order before the portal reopens Monday.

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