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Palm Beach County works to disperse aid as moratorium eviction deadline set to expire

Nearly 5,000 families have received help, county official says
Posted at 4:42 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 17:41:05-04

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is continuing its push to help people sign up for COVID-19 rental assistance as the Centers for Disease Control's eviction moratorium is set to expire Saturday.

MORE: Attorney warns of 'avalanche of evictions' as moratorium ends

There are still millions in assistance available in Palm Beach County for people impacted by the virus.

Leaders were using a bus Friday to help get people signed up for aid.

Johnnie Agunobi was among the residents getting assistance, but her hardship didn't start when the pandemic began last year.

Johnnie Agunobi, seeking rental assitance
Johnnie Agunobi says recent deaths in her family have caused financial hardships.

"When my brother passed away, just before then I had two deaths with my sister and my mom, and I'm the only sibling to put money out there to make sure they had their burial," Agunobi said.

On a fixed income and disability, it set her back.

"I'm behind now. I'm so far behind. I'm scared," Agunobi said.

MORE: Landlords face hurdles with eviction moratorium ending

She said although her financial hardships weren't directly caused by COVID-19, the pandemic has made it more difficult for her to find work and catch up on bills.

"There's other people out here that don't have COVID situations, and we are in desperate need of help," Agunobi said.

James Green, the executive director of the Palm Beach County Community Services Department, wants the public to know that aid is available.

James Green, executive director of the Palm Beach County Community Services Department
James Green explains the assistance available to Palm Beach County residents in need.

"There is a funding stream that we use, and we partner with a number of community-based organizations to assist with non-COVID-related cases," Green said.

As for renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic, he said they have about $20 million left in aid to distribute. Their mobile bus is helping get help to those in need.

“We've serviced nearly 5,000 families, and we've spent nearly $20 million just in that past four or five months or so. We are one of the leaders in the state with getting this money out, and a lot of it is due to staff working tirelessly," Green said.

If you are applying for rental assistance, Green said you must provide the following documents:

  • Government-issued identification
  • Evidence of COVID-19 impact
  • Evidence of income eligibility
  • Piece of mail or utility bill showing proof of address
  • Social Security card

St. Lucie County
Rental assistance is also still available for residents in St. Lucie County as well.

The county community services department has helped more than 60 families with nearly $400,000 in funding through the emergency rental assistance (ERA) and eviction diversion program.

The ERA program provides up to 12 months of funds that can be used for past due rent, current rent or up to three months of future rent.

For more information about these programs, who qualifies and how to apply visit www.recoverstlucie.org.

Martin County
Rental and utility assistance in Martin County is being facilitated through the Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance (OUR) Florida Program.

OUR Florida provides renters who qualify with relief on unpaid rent and utility bills, and supports landlords and utilities with relief on lost revenue to support their continued recovery.

The county says the program focuses on low-income renters whose household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which varies by county. The program will prioritize renters with income at or below 50% AMI and/or families who have experienced unemployment within the past 90 days.

Martin County's Housing Program works to meet the housing needs of the low, and moderate-income households in the county. Call (772) 288-5456 to learn more about assistance.

Indian River County
The Housing and Rental Assistance office in Indian River County is located at 1800 27th St., Building B, in Vero Beach.

Office hours are Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Residents with questions about housing and rental assistance should call (772) 226-4360 or email at rmiller@ircgov.com.