Orange County continues its rental assistance program as COVID-19 pandemic persists

Commissioners said approved revision is to help more people


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Commissioners have approved a revision to Orange County’s rental assistance program that will increase the amount of money available to help tenants facing eviction from $4,000 to $10,000 per household.

The boost in funding was made possible through $33.4 million from a federal coronavirus relief package passed in December.

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Dianne Arnold, who is the county’s resource and outreach manager, said the increase is designed to help residents who have faced continued struggles to make rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.

”You could be eight, nine or 10 months behind and this would make the difference between you being able to be caught up on your rent,” she said.

Like the county’s previous program, payments would be made directly to landlords.  However, help is now available for tenants at least one month behind rent, instead of two months.

”Part of the reason for that is there have been people who maybe they’ve been able to continue working, they’ve just had reduced hours,” Arnold said. “We’re trying to make sure they also have an opportunity to be able to receive assistance.”

Officials said more than 60,000 households are rent-burdened and records show nearly 3,700 landlords and tenants participated in the county’s earlier eviction diversion program. Arnold said some of the previous participants may quailfy again.

”We want to make sure they have the opportunity to be eligible for up to the same amount as the people that would be new coming into the rent assistance program,” she said.

Tenants who wish to apply must show they were economically impacted by the pandemic and agree to participate with their landlord. The program is scheduled to launch March 1. Click here for more information.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.