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Florida Department Of Children And Families Offering Support To Renters, Landlords

2020 Census California
Rich Pedroncelli
OURFlorida.com provides local governments federal money for rental assistance. Until recently smaller communities like Hernando County, were excluded.

A new assistance program is accepting applications for low-income renters and landlords in Florida who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris announced the launch of the program, “Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance,” or OUR Florida, earlier this month.

The U.S. Department of Treasury issued $1.4 billion to support Florida’s effort -- it’s part of the $25 billion included in the federal government’s 2020 Emergency Rental Assistance Program

“Low-income families are on the verge of homelessness, and this program will provide a safety net to keep families stable and in their homes,” Harris said in a press release.

Previously, only cities and counties with more than 200,000 residents were eligible to receive about $529 million in federal funds, cutting smaller areas off from the assistance.

But this program, which uses the remaining funds -- over $800 million -- is open to any Florida resident, no matter where they live.

Renters making less than 50% of the area median income will be prioritized, but families must be at or below 80% to receive benefits. Other eligibility requirements are risk of homelessness or harmful living conditions.

Eligible renters can receive up to 15 months of rent and utility payments. Landlords are asked to work with tenants to determine eligibility for the program.

Tenants who have received previous relief funds will not be approved for payment on utilities that have been covered, according to the

“If you have already received assistance through the CARES Act, state and local relief funds, or private, non-profit organizations, the rent or utility bills that were covered by these programs are not eligible for payments through OUR Florida,” officials said. “Rent and utility bills that were not covered by these programs may be eligible for support from OUR Florida.”

A list of required documents can be found on the OurFlorida website. Applications are now being reviewed in the order that they are received.

Florida residents who are interested in applying or want to check on the status of their application can visit OURFlorida.com.

Carica Astrel is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for the summer of 2021.