CLEARWATER — Pinellas County still have money available to provide emergency financial assistance to individuals, families and small businesses in need of help due to COVID-19. The deadline to apply is June 1.
Funding for the programs comes from the $170 million the county received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The program for individuals and families launched April 30. As of May 17, 131 had applied for funding totaling $46,887, according to Daisy Rodriquez, director of Human Services.
Rodriquez told county commissioners during a May 19 meeting that another 641 applications were in process, totaling $818,630.
The program for individuals and families provides up to $4,000 in one-time assistance to those who have lost their jobs or had a significant loss in income due to the pandemic. Money is available to pay overdue rent, mortgage and utility bills, which will be paid directly to landlords, mortgage holders or utility companies.
Rodriquez said the fastest way to apply for funding is to text COVIDCARES to 898211. For additional help, people can call 2-1-1. The deadline to apply is June 1.
Commissioners seemed disappointed that more had not applied.
Rodriquez said the application process was a challenge for some and many were only submitting a portion of the documentation needed to apply.
Applicants must provide documentation that they lost their job because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Examples include employees of businesses that were shut down under state or local orders. Documentation could include paystubs, a letter from an employer or other proof that the business was closed.
During the month an applicant is applying for assistance, the household income cannot exceed 200% of the federal poverty level, which is $2,127 for a one-person household, $2,873 for two persons, $3,620 for three, $4,367 for four, $5,113 for five, $5,860 for six, $6,607 for seven and $7,354 for an eight-person household.
Applicants cannot have more than $4,000 in liquid assets, including cash and money in a checking or savings account.
They must prove they are a Pinellas County resident and a U.S. citizen.
Rodriquez said the best way to apply is to submit all the documentation at one time.
For more information, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/pinellascaresindividual/.
Economic Development Director Mike Meidel said 1,500 applications for the Pinellas CARES small business grants program had been received the day it launched, May 4.
As of May 19, 3,700 applications had been received and 307 checks had already been cut totaling $1.5 million. Meidel said another 987 applications had been “touched.” Another 1,000 are in process.
Thus far, 173 applications have been denied and he expects another 400 will likely be denied due to ineligibility.
The small business grant program provides up to $5,000 to cover expenses such as employee wages, vendor bills and mortgage or rent costs. The money cannot be used to recover revenue losses.
Businesses must be located in Pinellas with 1-25 full-time employees or an equivalent number of part-time employees, including the owner.
Nonessential businesses forced to shut down due to the state or local safer-at-home orders are eligible.
Larger businesses, nonprofits and home-based businesses are not eligible.
The one-time assistance cannot be used to cover COVID-19 related costs paid for by insurance or another federal program.
The deadline to apply is June 1. For complete information and an online application, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/pinellascaresbusiness/.
County Administrator Barry Burton told commissioners that staff is already looking at a phase two, which would expand the program to make more in need eligible. He expects to provide more information in mid-June.
Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.