Residents of This City May Be in Line for $6.8 Million in Stimulus Aid

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  • Many people fell behind on rent payments during the pandemic.
  • Some Orlando residents could be in line for near-term aid.

There's more money to be had -- for those who qualify.

The pandemic has had a profound impact on a lot of people's finances. Over the past two years, many people have fallen behind on their housing payments. And while there were eviction bans put in place to prevent a mass homelessness crisis, those protections have largely run out, putting renters who are still behind on their payments in a dangerous spot.

The last two stimulus bills allocated billions of dollars to rental assistance funds, and some of that money is still available for the people who need it. In fact, there's a $6.8 million pool of money earmarked for COVID-19 relief for Orlando residents. Those in need of rental assistance now have an opportunity to apply.

A financial lifeline for Orlando renters

On Feb. 1, the city of Orlando reopened its rental assistance portal so those in need of aid can apply for relief. However, there are criteria that must be met to qualify for rental assistance locally. Applicants must:

  • Have one or more household members who lost income during the pandemic, received unemployment benefits, or experienced a specific financial hardship
  • Prove they're at risk of homelessness or housing instability (typically, a past due rent notice from a landlord can fulfill this requirement)
  • Have a household income at or below 80% of the city's median income, which is $61,050 for a family of four
  • Show proof they occupy a rental unit in Orlando (a copy of a lease agreement or monthly rent receipts can satisfy this requirement)

The city of Orlando, meanwhile, will provide assistance for past-due rent as well as up to three months of future rent payments. But all told, those who receive rental assistance funds cannot qualify for more than 18 months' worth of rent payments.

It's also worth noting, similar to many other cities, Orlando will send rental assistance funds directly to landlords. That helps ensure the money is used for its intended purposes.

Applicants for rental assistance also cannot have a rental costing more than $4,000 a month. And the city won't be giving out funds to help with utility costs unless utilities are expressly billed as part of a renter's lease agreement.

Are more cities giving out stimulus aid?

There's still a fair amount of aid left to go around for rental assistance purposes, so even if you're not an Orlando resident, you may still be eligible for some amount of assistance. It's a good idea to call your state housing agency and see what help you qualify for.

Meanwhile, if you're worried about getting evicted, maintain an open line of communication with your landlord. If you explain you're trying to seek out aid but haven't recovered financially from the pandemic and have no savings to tap, your landlord may be willing to work with you. Your landlord may also be willing to get involved with, or take over, the application process, so that's something worth discussing as well.

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