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Hillsborough County call center for residents seeking relief experiencing issues on opening day

Posted at 7:51 AM, Apr 27, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hillsborough County's Rapid Response Recovery (R3) call center is experiencing issues on its opening day due to a surge in calls, according to the county.

The county's R3 program call center opened Monday morning.

It's meant for all residents from Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace and unincorporated Hillsborough County, who experienced "a reduction in or loss of wages resulting from layoff or lessening of hours" due to the coronavirus pandemic, to call for relief.

The county said on Twitter callers may hear a busy signal or have trouble connecting. The county says it's working to resolve the issue quickly.

“We were not able to take any calls at all. So at 8:00 I can imagine the frustration and the concern and the panic on some people that had heard about this program, were relying on this program, and had been waiting to call this morning, at 8:00 this morning and they weren’t able to get through. We absolutely apologize and we’ve worked on that," said Audrey Ziegler, director of Hillsborough County's social services department.

Due to the increase in calls, the county opened a second line.

The numbers are:

  • 813-274-3710
  • 813-274-6710 *new number*

The county says the second number they added is the best number to call. Currently, the first number is down.

The phone line problem is bad news for the people who called early in the morning and couldn't get through because the federal CARES Act funding is being distributed on a first come first served basis to those who are eligible.

Hillsborough County hopes the money will provide relief for up to 6,000 area households, to help cover the cost of past-due utility bills and lease and mortgage payments.

Phone lines are open Monday through Friday, according to the county.

The county says to continue calling throughout the day if you aren't able to get through immediately because of high call volume.

The county expects to divvy up funding by the end of the week, paying landlords, mortage and utility companies directly, on behalf of those households.

The call center's opening comes as the county received $256 million in funding from the CARES Act — $15 million is dedicated to this program.

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