LARGO — Relief could be on the way for residents of Largo and Clearwater who are facing hardships as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act are trickling down to local municipalities, and officials are looking to provide aid to residents in need.
Here’s a look at some of the programs in place or in the works.
Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Assistance Program
The city is offering up to $5,000 to residents who have fallen behind on their rent, mortgage, or utility payments.
The program uses funds from the state Florida Housing Finance Corp
In order to qualify, applicants must have a combined household income that is no higher than 120% of area median income.
Household size and income requirements:
• One person: $59,160
• Two persons: $67,560
• Three persons: $75,960
• Four persons: $84,360
The assistance is for delinquencies from March and beyond. Payments will be disbursed directly to the utility, landlord, mortgage holder or other eligible agency.
Applicants may also be eligible for funds to pay insurance deductibles, foreclosure or eviction prevention, and homeownership counseling.
For more information, visit myclearwater.com/RMUAssistance to apply.
Resident Assistance Program
The city created the program in May in an effort to aid Largo households impacted by COVID-19 by providing up to $4,000 for rent, mortgage, and utilities.
Initially, applicants were required to apply for the Pinellas CARES program first, but that was changed because the county’s program was getting backlogged.
“We made a shift to not require that step in the process and that really helped open it up, as well as help alleviate some of the pressure for Pinellas CARES as well,” Arrow Woodard, the city’s housing grants specialist, told city commissioners Aug. 11 during a work session.
As a result, the city has awarded about $56,000 in grant funding. About 50 applicants weren’t eligible because they were outside city limits.
However, because the city used state housing funds for the program, it required extensive paperwork and has proven cumbersome, Woodard said. It also sunsets Sept. 30
Coronavirus Relief Funds
Fortunately, the Florida Housing Finance Corp. has notified the city it has been awarded $272,000 under the CARES Act to assist residents. The city has until Dec. 30 to spend the funds, however.
“The good news is that the paperwork for the renters and the homeowners for the applicants is considerably streamlined,” said Bob Klute, assistant community development director.
The funds are also less restrictive, so residents with higher incomes will qualify.
The City Commission will have to sign off on it Sept. 1.
Community Development Block Grant funds
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has also awarded the city $330,000 to help residents with low and moderate incomes.
“The thing about this money is that it is available for longer term recovery activities,” Community Director Carol Stricklin said.
The funds could also be used to partner with other governments and organizations.
Stricklin said staff is analyzing the needs of the community, will make recommendations on how to use it, and will present them to the commission Sept. 8.