County Council allocates an additional $5 million for COVID-19 rent and mortgage assistance

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With unemployment still high and applications for aid pouring in, the Volusia County Council has allocated another $5 million to help local residents struggling to make their housing payments due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council pumped the additional funds into the program on Tuesday, bringing the total amount of money that Volusia County has earmarked for rent and mortgage assistance for county residents to $17.5 million.

The council launched the grant program in May, staking it with an initial $5 million before adding $5 million more in July and another $2.5 million earlier this month. That’s in addition to the millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds the council has channeled into grant programs for small businesses, home-based businesses and non-profit agencies as well as food aid and the purchase of personal protective equipment to help the community recover from the pandemic.

The money for the programs is coming from the coronavirus relief funds distributed to the county as part of the federal CARES Act.

“We have received an increasing amount of applications,” Deputy County Manager Suzanne Konchan told council members on Tuesday in recommending an increase in funding for the rent and mortgage assistance program.

Through Monday, the county had received more than 4,900 applications, with 2,715 already approved and another 1,467 under review. And new applications have amounted to around $1 million a week. For qualified applicants, the program provides up to $1,500 a month for a maximum of three months. The county is working to process applications as quickly as possible, Community Services Director Dona Butler told the council.

“We’re moving through them. We’ve got a system down,” said Butler. “We’ve knocked down every single barrier that we could so folks can get the assistance.”

The program’s aim is to help residents who’ve either suffered a job loss or a reduction in pay or work hours due to COVID-19. To qualify, the rent or mortgage must have been current as of March 13, 2020. Also, the dwelling unit must be located in Volusia County and be the applicant’s primary residence.

Applicants must meet income eligibility criteria to qualify and certify that they’ve suffered a loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic. For applicants who meet the eligibility requirements and are approved for the grant, the county will make payments directly to the landlord or mortgage holder.

Applications are being processed on a first-come, first-served basis and can be obtained by calling Volusia County Community Assistance at 386-736-5955 or by clicking on the link to visit the website:  https://www.volusia.org/services/community-services/community-assistance/

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