Hillsborough and Pinellas County families may be eligible for help with past due rent and utilities

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TAMPA, Fla. — As the Tampa Bay area continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of local families may be able to get help with past due rent or utility bills.

Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa received nearly $40 million in federal funding to help people who are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The funding supports the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which looks to prevent families from experiencing further financial hardship to living conditions by providing eligible and approved households financial assistance for past-due rent and TECO electric bills.

If you meet requirements, this program would provide up to 12 months of past-due rental assistance. That includes the month you are applying, as well as one prospective month and will also cover most of your utility bill assistance.

Audrey Ziegler with Hillsborough County Social Services said the application process is relatively simple.

"It's all online," she said. "We do have case managers available to help with the application process. I really want to encourage our community, our landlords, residents, if you know of anyone in need, if you are in a little bit of need a lot of need, please have them reach out to our call center."

If you have any questions about this program, call the ERAP Call Center at (866) 375-9114 to speak with a representative. The call center is open from 8 AM until 6 PM Monday through Friday.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program online application portal is open for eligible residents at or below 80% Area Media Income (AMI) or with zero income 90 days prior to application date.

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You will need all of the following when applying:

  • Identification for all members of the household
  • Copy of 2020 Federal income tax return to verify household income (Form 1040 – both pages)
  • Signed W-9 form, if requested from an eligibility specialist
  • Copy of your active lease
  • Form from your landlord showing the number of past-due rental payment
  • Copy of your latest past-due utility statement from TECO, if applicable

Pinellas County has a similar rental assistance program available for families as well.