ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Since late February, the Department of Economic Opportunity has navigated a post-COVID financial lifeline for more than 11,000 homeowners across the state.
According to the DEO, as of Aug. 15, the Florida Homeowner Assistance program — or HAF — had crossed the $300 million mark to help homeowners pay home mortgages, utilities and other related bills.
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“We’ve awarded more by money and by percentage of allocations than any other state in the nation,” DEO Deputy Assistant Director Adam Callaway told News 6. “It’s a good feeling to hear from families, ‘You’ve saved my home.’”
According to the DEO, HAF provided $676,102,379 in financial assistance to the state of Florida through the United States Department of the Treasury. DEO has been designated to manage and operate HAF on behalf of the state of Florida.
Total approved cash assistance reported by the DEO stands at $311 million for 11,100 Florida residents.
While the DEO has been aggressive in getting help to eligible residents, News 6 has been contacted by some families frustrated by delays in getting approval on financial “awards.”
Lindsay Elliott, a married mother of one, told News 6 she was “losing a lot of sleep over it.”
The Orange County Public Schools Pre-Algebra teacher said she and her husband applied for help in July after their savings had been wiped out to cover the mortgage and other bills dating back to 2020.
“You’re submitted, you’re under review, we’ll email you, " is the message Elliott said she has been receiving from the DEO via email.
By Tuesday, she still had no idea whether funds would be issued to her mortgage company or how the money would be dispersed.
“I saw (on a Facebook group page) again and again, ‘We’ve been waiting months,’” she said. “People that applied in March are still waiting.”
Homeowners are eligible for up to $50,000 under the HAF program. According to the DEO, the funds issued have helped stop active foreclosures.
DEO Press Secretary Leigh McGowan said the staff is working to get Elliott’s case reviewed as quickly as possible.
“Ms. Elliott receives an email regarding the status of her application on a weekly basis, and DEO will continue to communicate with her as we prioritize homeowners based on need, per federal guidelines,” she said.
According to McGowan, based on U.S. Treasury guidance, DEO prioritizes the state’s “most vulnerable residents for relief.”
“Florida homeowners are invited to apply based on need, and applications are processed in the order they are received. DEO is working as quickly as possible to expedite relief to eligible applicants,” McGowan said.
The DEO is concerned that some applications have not been completed, leaving potential funds unclaimed.
The DEO provided this information to complete the applications. How to Complete and Submit a HAF Application Video and Application Guide.
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