Some Florida Residents Could Get a Piece of $28 Million in Stimulus Funds

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  • Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa have received an extra $28 million in rent relief funds.
  • If you're behind on your rent, it could pay to see if you qualify.

Talk about essential relief.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't just constituted a massive health crisis. It also sparked a national financial crisis that's put a lot of people at risk of homelessness.

When the outbreak first erupted, many people lost their jobs. A lot of workers who didn't have money in savings to fall back on quickly became delinquent on rent payments, the same way many homeowners suddenly couldn't pay their mortgages.

Thankfully, Congress made relief available to renters and homeowners alike. While property owners could put their mortgages into forbearance for a time, renters were spared eviction thanks to a federal ban that went into effect in 2020.

That ban, however, expired in mid-2021. And while certain cities and states extended their own eviction protections, that national ban disappeared. That has put a lot of people at risk of losing their homes, unable to catch up on past-due rent or cover future rent.

The last two stimulus bills signed into law provided billions of dollars in rent relief funds, much of which has already gone out. But some cities and counties are getting additional funds for rental assistance. And now, some Florida residents may be in line for much-needed help.

More money is coming to Florida

Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa recently received an extra $28 million in rent relief funds. Beginning March 1, residents can apply for rental assistance to cover not just past-due rent, but also overdue utility bills.

If you're still behind on your rent and live in the area, it pays to see if you qualify for aid. Those entitled to assistance may receive up to 12 months of past-due rent from March 13, 2020 onward. Those awarded aid may also be eligible for funds to cover up to three months of future rent payments.

Furthermore, it's not just tenants who can benefit from rental assistance. Landlords should look into the program as well, because ultimately, it's landlords who will collect the assistance money.

In some areas, landlords can apply for rent relief on tenants' behalf. In Hillsborough County, landlords cannot apply on behalf of tenants. However, they're encouraged to share the details of the programs with tenants behind on rent or who risk falling behind. They can also assist tenants with applying.

Help could be on the way

If you're a resident of Hillsborough County still struggling to make rent payments, or who hasn't caught up on past-due rent, it's worth seeing if you qualify for this latest round of aid. You need to prove that you were impacted financially by the pandemic, which could mean you lost your job or suffered income loss.

You also must have an active lease within Hillsborough County and a household income at or below 80% of the area's median income. For a one-person household, that's an income of up to $39,400.

A lot of people have yet to recover from the blow the pandemic dealt them. If you're in that boat, it's worth going after all of the aid you can get -- it could spell the difference between staying in your home or not.

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