Orange County mayor wants to use $20 million to create new eviction diversion program

Effort designed to help those financially impacted by pandemic

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (Orange County government)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is seeking approval of a new program that would help those who are struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic avoid eviction.

Demings announced the proposal Thursday during a COVID-19 briefing but provided very few details, mostly saying that he’s seeking approval Tuesday from the board of commissioners.

He also said that the program would be started using $20 million in federal CARES Act money and would assist both individuals and landlords.

“On Tuesday, I will be recommending that the board of county commissioners designate $20 million in CARES Act money for a COVID-19 eviction diversion program. The program will be designed to assist individuals impacted by the coronavirus who are in imminent danger of being evicted. It will also be designed to assist landlords. So it will assist individuals and landlords,” Demings said.

If the program is approved, applications will open Aug. 25. To be eligible, tenants and property owners must both agree to participate and the tenant must be at least two months behind in rent.

The county already established a program using CARES Act money to help residents who lost their jobs or had their hours cut make rent and mortgage payments. Each of the five times that application portal opened during the past few months, it closed within minutes due to overwhelming demand.

Demings said late last month that he’d like to provide more housing assistance but at this point it’s unclear when or even if that application portal will open for a sixth time.

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