TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The state's housing finance agency formally accepted $250 million in CARES Act dollars on Friday. The money will now head to Floridians struggling to pay rent or mortgages.
Housing assistance has long been a desire for many after COVID-19's economic shutdown cost hundreds of thousands across the state their jobs.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued to extend a moratorium on evictions until August, it won't last forever. Delayed mortgage and rent payments will eventually come due.
Florida Housing Finance Corporation said with the formalities out of the way, it can now work to divvy out the money and get it to those in need.
"There are folks that we know that, through no fault of their own, their jobs have either gone away or been cut severely back," said Florida Housing's Director Trey Price.
Price said most of the dollars will go into two big pots.
The first will be composed of $120 million in rental assistance for those in affordable housing already managed by the agency.
An additional $120 million will head to cities and counties for their rent and mortgage aid programs.
Officials will use remaining dollars for operational costs and special needs or homeless programs.
"We're trying to get this money moving. We only have until the end of 2020 to do so," Price said.
The director expected to meet that goal as DeSantis announced later in the day the first chunk, $75 million, was already headed out the door to local governments.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruption to families throughout the state," said DeSantis in a statement. "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."
For those curious about qualifications, Florida Housing said it's working with landlords to identify those in need of help, under its umbrella. Private renters and homeowners can check with their local SHIP offices to see what options are available to them.
Florida Housing will also be starting a hotline on Monday to help anyone with questions. The number: 1-888-362-7885.