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Florida attorney recommends applying for county emergency rental assistance over the state

Hillsborough County expects new rental assistance funding in 2022
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Posted at 3:58 PM, Dec 14, 2021

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — ABC Action News has been watching emergency rental assistance funding throughout the state and found that checks are going out, but very slowly.

We introduced you to a Clearwater woman, Sarah Pasko, just before Thanksgiving. She did end up receiving her first check from the Department of Children and Families, OUR Florida, after our story. While it wasn’t enough to cover even a month’s rent, the Community Law Program was able to stop her eviction in court, showing the judge that two more checks are on the way.

Attorney Mercy Roberg said she was able to correspond with a representative at DCF who provided her a spreadsheet of a few clients and check disbursement dates, including Paskos. However, since then, she hasn’t been able to get any other information.

“I have sent a number of spreadsheets with names and OUR Florida numbers to ask for status updates, to ask for check numbers, and items like that, and I consistently get the ‘We’re working on it. We will get back to you.’”

On Dec. 6, DCF told ABC Action News OUR Florida had distributed about 64% of their emergency rental assistance to more than 100,000 households in the state. Unfortunately, the Community Law Program tells us that since our story aired, they’ve only gotten more clients who are waiting on checks from DCF.

Attorney Roberg said she’s working with attorneys across the state to try and get more information from DCF. In the meantime, they have advice for anyone still applying.

“We actually here in Pinellas County are encouraging new residents that are just now applying to use the county applications because that we are seeing a faster disbursement of checks on,” Roberg said. “So if you have a choice, we are recommending you know to try and go with your local county program if they still have funds.”

We checked and found Pinellas and Hillsborough counties still have funds.

Pinellas County has about $3 million left of its overall $20.4 million. They also expanded their program to qualify anyone who has faced hardship since March 2020, it does not have to be a result of the pandemic.

Hillsborough County has distributed nearly $49 million, that’s up $10 million since the end of October.

Even better news, a county spokesperson also said while they still have money available for renters and landlords, they’re expecting new funding for the program to come in 2022.

If you’d like to apply for Pinellas County emergency rental assistance, click here.

Click here to apply for Hillsborough County emergency rental assistance.

If you live in Pinellas County and need help with a possible eviction, click here to connect with the Community Law Program.

If you live in other parts of Tampa Bay, click here to connect with Bay Area Legal Services.