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Nearly $9 million in Leon CARES Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps community bounce back

Leon CARES Emergency Rental Assistance Program helps community pay past-due bills
Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 19:25:07-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — One year into the pandemic and people are still dealing with the financial impacts of COVID-19. Now, more help is available for people living in Leon County. Leon County is now accepting applications for its latest round of Leon CARES Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

"It's been hard. I'm out here trying to make things right for myself and my family."

Like so many others, the coronavirus pandemic left Derrick Chandler jobless and struggling to pay his bills.

"I don't normally come to programs like this," said Chandler.

Chandler is one of many finding help with the Leon County Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Leon County has 8.9-million dollars available to help people pay up to a year of past due rent and utilities plus 3 months of future payments. Leon County Director of the Office of Human Services & Community Partnerships Shington Lamy says on the first day of re-opening, 2,000 applications were started. About half of those applications were submitted.

To qualify for the program you have to prove you lost your job or took a pay-cut because of the pandemic.
You also have to upload documents such as a lease agreement, tax form, household income attestation form, or governmental assistance determination form. If approved, there is no cap for how much money you can receive.

"We're running it the way the federal government set it up. They didn't set a cap, so we didn't set a cap," said Lamy.

Leon County has staff at the Amtrak Building and the Main Public Library to help people apply.

"You have access to technology here. Someone may not have internet access, they can come here. There are certain documents that need to be uploaded and we have scanners, copy machines," said Lamy.

The Community Roundtable 850 is also helping people bounce back. Whitfield Leland is the founder of the non-profit. He says it's a great tool for Frenchtown and neighboring communities.

"We opened our doors because people are more comfortable talking to us than dealing with an unfamiliar face," said Leland.

Whitfield Leland says ultimately the goal is make sure everyone is able to apply.

The county expects the money to be used up in the next couple of months but says more money will be available later this year.

You can find the link to an online application and more information on how to qualify here.