Floridians struggling to pay the rent or facing homelessness due financial setbacks and hardships resulting from the pandemic can get help through two new state programs.
This week Florida began participation in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) established under the federal COVID-19 relief legislation and signed into law on December 27. Florida also received $85.8 million in CARES Act funding to address housing instability and homelessness across the state.
Under the ERAP, cities and counties with a population of 200,000 and greater will receive funds directly from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the program. While final allocations have not yet been released, it is anticipated that more than $850 million will be provided to Florida and it should be ready for distribution to state agencies before the middle of February.
According to an announcement from Governor Ron DeSantis on the program, households meeting the following criteria will be eligible for assistance:
Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income, with priority given to households below 50 percent of the area median income.
The money is paid on behalf of the renter directly to the landlord or utility company.
For those already homeless or facing housing instability due to COVID-19, the state received $85.8 million in CARES Act funding to provide rental assistance, support emergency shelters, and conduct street outreach programs to connect unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness with local housing and other essential services.
The Emergency Solutions Grant, which totals $85,896,094 released in two separate disbursements ($20 million and $65 million), will be administered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the single point of contact within state government for the 27 Continuums of Care (CoCs) and other agencies, organizations, and stakeholders serving the homeless population.
“I’m grateful for this federal funding and Governor DeSantis’ support, which together, will allow the Continuums of Care to expand the important work they’re doing in communities throughout Florida,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “I look forward to seeing the impact their efforts will have on individuals and families who are working hard and taking next steps to achieve economic self-sufficiency.”
“As Governor, I am committed to ensuring Floridians, no matter their circumstances, have the resources they need to succeed,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This federal funding will ensure those experiencing homelessness have the necessary level of support and can access the wraparound services they need to get back on their feet and begin or continue on their journey to economic stability and independence.”