PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A Tampa Bay nonprofit is offering rent relief for those struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida, also known as CHAF, operates more than 500 affordable housing units in 14 buildings across Pinellas County.
With so many people still out of work or facing reduced hours, the nonprofit says its tenants owe roughly $400K in unpaid rent through 2020.
"It was a learning process every single day that you try and do the right thing," said Holly Butler, CHAF’s director of property management. "You try and make the right decisions. No one had ever experienced this before."
Butler said CHAF will likely not receive money owed so she sought a solution.
"It’s so doom and gloom every day, how do we get a positive out of this," asked Butler.
CHAF is now offering rent relief for tenants who complete community service.
One hour of volunteering for a local charity slashes $100 from a tenant’s debt.
Residents have to prove the pandemic has adversely affected their employment.
On a recent Saturday, a group of a half-dozen CHAF tenants cleaned 400 pounds of trash out of Clearwater’s High Point neighborhood.
To date, CHAF’s "Back on Track" program has wiped $15,000 of debt for two-dozen tenants. That's 150 hours of service in the Pinellas County community.
"I was hoping that it could ignite a passion for community service," said Butler. "I thought if they go out and start going somewhere, they could meet people. Maybe it could lead to a job."