ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County’s portal for residents to apply for federal CARES Act money reopened Tuesday but reached its capacity within 40 minutes, according to officials.
The portal reopened at 8 a.m. to families and individuals hoping to apply for financial assistance and closed at 8:40 a.m., per a tweet from Orange County.
🍊@OrangeCoFL's CARES Act for Individual & Families Program has reached its 15,000-user capacity, and is now closed for 11/24.— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) November 24, 2020
Residents who are still inside the portal will not be logged out, and will have adequate time to complete their application.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said at a Monday news conference that the portal would not be open for very long, based on recent history.
“Last time the portal opened up to some 15,000 (users) and we reached that capacity within 30 minutes, so we anticipate that it will likely go quickly,” Demings said.
Once a hopeful applicant is logged into the portal, however, they’re encouraged to slow down and make sure they pay close attention while filling out their information.
“Once you are in the portal, however, please take your time, you will have adequate time to complete your application,” Demings said.
Residents can apply for a $1,000 grant through the county’s Individual and Family Assistance Program, even if someone in their household has already received money. Until recently, the assistance was limited to one grant per household.
“As a reminder, the program now allows other adults from the same household to apply for financial assistance,” Demings said. “That means, if you reside at the same address as someone who already received the grant, you can now also apply for the $1,000 payment. Whether you are a roommate, or another adult living in that household.”
Demings said the CARES Act portal will likely reopen once more before the Dec. 30 deadline the federal government set for the county to expend that money.
Based on that, the portal is expected to reopen on Dec. 8.
Demings said the county has about $13 million to allocate and he expects December to be a particularly tough time for residents.
“If there’s money to be reallocated, we want to put it in the hands of individuals and families and I know that because of the significant permanent furloughs from various businesses, most of them now move again to realize those permanent layoffs during the month of December. So I believe December is going to be a critical month in many different ways for our community,” Demings said.
The mayor added that he hopes the federal government will pass another round of relief in the near future.
Residents are encouraged to read up on eligibility criteria and necessary documents before beginning the application process. That information can be found at OCFL.net/OrangeCares.
The mayor said the county’s eviction diversion program for landlords and tenants is also still accepting new applications and will continue to do so until Dec. 16. Details on that financial assistance program can be found here.