Orange County CARES Act portal closes in less than hour

More than one member per household allowed to apply

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County’s CARES Act portal for residents wishing to apply for financial assistance to help with rent and other bills reopened Monday with new expanded criteria.

The portal opened at 8 a.m. and closed about 35 minutes later, Orange County officials said.

During the 35-minute window, residents could apply for a $1,000 grant through the county’s Individual and Family Assistance Program, even if someone in their household had already received money. Until now, the assistance was limited to one grant per household.

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the loosening of that restriction will lead to more help for residents who’ve lost their jobs or experienced financial setbacks as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“So previously, we went purely by the address for that household. If anyone in the household had received funding, then anyone else who applied was disqualified. What we’re going to do now is open that up. So if there is another resident of that household who has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they can apply and so now, multiple individuals in the same household will be able to become eligible for these funds,” Demings said.

During the summer months when the portal was first made available, it would close within minutes due to overwhelming demand. However, the past two times when the portal was opened, on Oct. 24 and Nov. 4, it was able to stay open for about eight hours before reaching capacity.

The portal was closed Monday once it reached its 15,000 user capacity, officials said.

Demings said during a news conference Monday that the applications that were successfully submitted on Monday will be reviewed this week and a decision will then be made about how if and when the portal can reopen.

The mayor said that as of Monday, the county still had several million dollars that have not been expended and only has until Dec. 30 to expend that money.

Anyone interested is encouraged to review eligibility and the required documentation before then by going here.

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