Orange County given $7.26 million for rental and housing relief, Gov. Ron DeSantis announces

CARES Orange County, FL
Governor Ron DeSantis (second from left) presents Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings (second from right) a check for $7.26 million from the CARES Act, which will go toward rental and housing relief, in Apopka. With them are Orange County District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore (left) and Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson (right).

Of the $75 million released to local governments statewide for rental and mortgage assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Orange County was given $7.26 million, Governor Ron DeSantis announced at a press conference held at Wellington Park Apartments in Apopka on Friday, July 17.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) Board of Directors unanimously approved the release of $75 million to local governments.

At the press conference, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings said the $7.26 million will “go a long way” to assist Orange County families with rent and housing in a pandemic that has impacted the job market.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the state’s unemployment rate in June was 10.4 percent, compared to 2.8 percent last February — before the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

“Here in Orange County, we believe this funding will enhance our family assistance programs and complement the activities being funded by the CARES Act dollars already received by Orange County,” he said. “This includes short-term rental assistance and social service for families affected by the pandemic.”

“Overall, Orange County has made a substantial commitment to create more affordable housing units for our communities, such as this facility you see here,” Demings continued, adding that Wellington Park Apartment is one of many affordable housing facilities that Orange County has had a partnership in construction.

Demings said that this past March, Orange County commissioners established a local affordable housing trust fund, recommended by the county’s Housing for All Task Force. With an initial budget of $10 million, the trust fund “would help us better leverage state and federal dollars and expand affordable housing options for our residents here throughout Orange County.”

The $7.26 million for short-term relief is a “great stop gap,” said Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson at the news conference. He added that Apopka has “done a lot here” with several affordable housing options including Brixton Landing, and Juniper Bend and Arbor Bend subdivisions.

“As we look long term, that’s what we’re looking for: How do we engage our community, get them into something affordable, get them off the streets, out of unsafe housing and into a house they’ll be proud of and they’ll live their life out in,” Nelson said.

Through the CARES Act, DeSantis made available $250 million toward affordable housing assistance, of which $120 million will be sent to local governments to provide rental and mortgage assistance program. The $75 million approved on Friday, July 17, is the first release of the funding to local governments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruption to families throughout the state,” Governor DeSantis was quoted as saying in a Friday, July 17, news release. “It is my hope that these funds and the rest of the $250 million will provide some level of relief to individuals who — through no fault of their own — are now having difficulty making ends meet.”

“As Floridians continue to struggle with the negative economic impacts of COVID-19, Florida Housing remains committed to providing renters and homeowners with housing assistance,” Trey Price, Executive Director of Florida Housing Finance Corporation, was quoted as saying in the news release. “We are proud to stand with the Governor to ensure affordable housing remains a top priority, and that families have the necessary assistance to remain in their homes during these difficult times.”

For a full list of the allocations, click here.

How to apply for housing assistance

Impacted homeowners and renters can apply for the following assistance through a local State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program housing office:

  • Rental and mortgage assistance payments for persons who experienced a hardship that prevents them from making these payments;
  • Emergency repair; and
  • Rehabilitation and New Construction related specifically to a need caused by the COVID-19 emergency.

Click here for more information on the program and how to start the process.

The toll-free Coronavirus Relief Fund for Impacted Homeowners and Renters Information Line is 1-888-362-7885 will be available starting Monday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays for those who would like to speak with a representative.