ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders are working hard to get the word out about a rental assistance program that still has millions of dollars to pay out for those who are past due on rent.
On March 1, Orange County opened up a portal to a new rental assistance program funded through the federal government, giving more than $33 million for those in the county who owe rent. The program can offer up to $10,000 in rent that is past due or up to 12 months rent owed to one’s landlord if the applicant qualifies.
“We have expended a little over $1 million dollars,” said Dianne Arnold, Manager of Orange County’s Community and Family Services Department. “We definitely have funds available.”
Unlike other programs like Orange County’s Individual and Family Assistance Programs and the Eviction Diversion Program, the rental assistance program has stricter qualifications, income requirements and requires documents and participation from both the tenant and landlord. Landlords can also apply on behalf of the tenant.
“We have to connect with the tenant and we also have to connect with the landlord,” Arnold said. “It takes longer with two entities to match them up.”
With millions of dollars available, county leaders say that’s why they’re now pushing out a campaign with flyers at neighborhood community centers and food banks and working with county commissioners and non-profit organizations to get the word out.
“That’s what motivated me because after talking to individuals, they don’t know this is available,” said Mayra Uribe, County Commissioner for District 3. “They are going to food banks now, Second Harvest Food Bank, community centers to help let people know. Unless you are watching the news, unless you are on top of what’s going on, most people have no idea this is available.”
Uribe said with people searching for help elsewhere, she hopes people can tap into this resource.
“They are going to help you catch up and get to date and that’s what’s great. They aren’t just going to help you with one month, there’s the ability to help you put $10,000 that’s a lot of money,” she said.
Orange County reports of the 3,134 applications submitted, nearly half or 1,358 have been denied. Arnold said it’s because of duplicate applications either by landlord and tenant or because residents who live in the City of Orlando are applying through Orange County. Because the City of Orlando applied to have their own funding for this program, residents within Orlando City limits do not qualify.
The City of Orlando is expected to have its rental assistance program up and running within a few weeks, county leaders say.
To see if you qualify, meet household and income requirements, are within the jurisdiction or if you want to apply, click here.