ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Commissioners approved a plan to use $20 million in CARES Act money to fund a new program aimed at helping those who are struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic avoid eviction.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings first announced the proposal during a news conference last week saying he would go before the board to seek approval on Tuesday.
Demings said the program would be started using $20 million in federal CARES Act money and would assist both renters and landlords.
Orange County District 3 Commissioner Mayra Uribe said the board voted unanimously during a meeting on Tuesday to approve the funding for the Orange County COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Program.
According to a post on the commissioner’s Facebook page, Orange County will pay up to $4,000 and the landlord agrees to waive any remainder. In order to participate in the program, a landlord must agree not to continue the eviction process. The payments will be sent directly to the landlords.
“This is a program as people are getting back on their feet and trying to rebuild their personal finances. We are going to help take care of some of those old rent [bills] that are still lingering,” Uribe said.
There must also be a contractual agreement between the landlord and tenant through Dec. 31, and the landlord must agree to sign a work-out agreement with the tenant that ensures they will not initiate the tenant eviction process for 60 days after receiving payment from the county.
“You’re going to have to have an agreement with your landlord and be able to pay your rent moving froward,” Uribe said.
The application process for the program will open Aug. 25 to both tenants and landlords.
In order to qualify for the program, the tenant must be an Orange County resident in imminent danger of eviction. It must be the tenant’s primary residence and the lease must be in the applicant’s name. According to the criteria posted by Uribe, one or more members of the household must have experienced a documented, involuntary loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic between March 13, when Orange County was under a stay-at-home order, and Sept. 1.
Applicants must be at least two months behind on rent to qualify and no other person in the household should apply for the program.
The $20 million in CARES Act funding will be divided as follows, according to the county:
- $11 million for very low-income households
- $8 million for low-income households
- $1 million for moderate-income households
Priority will be given to families and seniors over the age of 65.
Other criteria for both landlords and tenants can be found in the PDF below.
Commissioner Emily Bonilla said the program is a good thing, especially for families who have been struggling.
“What are people going to do to feed their families? That’s another thing I’ve been concerned about because they’re losing their income,” Bonilla said.
Adriana Montes, from the Florida Dreams Realty Group, shared with News 6 how her landlords and company have also taken a hit because of COVID-19.
“My income has been dramatically reduced,” Montes said. “By the time we finish the moratorium, we will probably lose over a 100,000.”