Residents of This State Could Be in Line for $740 Million in Stimulus Funds

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  • Many renters fell behind on their housing payments during the pandemic.
  • Florida residents may now have more aid coming their way.

Talk about a lifeline.

The COVID-19 pandemic transformed a lot of people's financial situations from stable to utterly ruined overnight. Early on in the outbreak, many workers lost their jobs, and those who didn't have savings to fall back on may have instantly gotten behind on bills.

Not surprisingly, many renters were unable to make their housing payments during the pandemic, and some are, to this day, still behind. While a federal eviction ban was put into place to help renters in that situation avoid losing their homes, that ban ran out last summer, putting many tenants in a tough spot (though some cities and states did end up extending their own protections so renters had more leeway).

The good news is that billions of dollars in rental assistance funds were allocated to states to avert an eviction crisis. Now, residents of Florida may be in line for additional aid.

More funding is coming to Florida

Florida has already distributed more than $858 million in rental assistance funds to residents since May 2021. And now, the state is getting another round of funding worth $740 million.

In addition to getting more funding, the Florida Department of Children and Families, which is overseeing the state's rent relief efforts, has hired more staff to assist with the processing of rent relief applications. Last year, many states were criticized for their painfully slow rollout of rent relief funds, so additional staffing should help solve that problem. Staff members are also on hand to field calls and help applicants navigate the process.

Much-needed relief

At a time when so many people are still struggling to catch up on past-due rent, rental prices are soaring nationwide. Since March 2020, rent prices in Tampa, for example, have increased by 34.3%.

Florida in particular has seen an uptick in rental prices as the demand for homes has soared. A lot of people have retired in the course of the pandemic and relocated to Florida for milder weather and more favorable tax laws (Florida is only one of several states with no income tax). That's put a strain on the real estate market and has made it more difficult for lower-income households to afford housing. This $740 million in rental assistance funds is becoming available at just the right time.

Florida residents who are still behind on their rent and struggling to make housing payments can usethis tool to see if they qualify for assistance based on factors like income and household size. So far, more than 164,000 Florida households have received rental assistance money. Those who continue to struggle financially should explore their options for relief as soon as possible.

While some states have extended their eviction protections, Florida is not one of them. Those who are behind on rent may be at serious risk of losing their homes in the absence of aid, which is why it's important to get the application process started sooner rather than later.

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