Local Resident Financial Assistance Programs

Posted By: James Toy SWFAA News,

Due to the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, the state, and local governments have developed many assistance programs for those affected by the virus. In an effort to assist residents, we have provided a brief overview of some state, and local programs aimed to assist residents who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Please scroll down to find various local government assistance programs. 

State Assistance

Reemployment Assistance

Reemployment Assistance provides financial assistance and reemployment services to those unemployed in the State of Florida. Please click here to learn more about Reemployment Assistance. To apply for Florida’s Reemployment Assistance, please click here.*

*Unfortunately, due to current circumstances, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has reported issues with filing initial claims because the agency's online system keeps crashing and the call center is overloaded. In response to these issues, the DEO has allowed residents to download the application from the agency's site and mail it in. Residents can also go to CareerSource locations, which provide the applications and assist them with submitting it. To find your local CareerSource Center, please click here. FedEx is also offering free printing and mailing of the forms at more than 100 storefronts across the state

Note: The Governor issued Executive Order 20-104 on April 16th, which suspended the biweekly reporting of "actively seeking work" requirement for claimants of unemployment benefits. Those who have obtained unemployment benefits from the State of Florida to do not have to fullfill the traditional requirement of reporting their search for employment to the state until the expiration of Executive Order 20-52. 

Short Time Compensation

Short-Time Compensation (STC) permits pro-rated Reemployment Assistance benefits to employees whose work hours and earnings are reduced as part of a STC plan to avoid total layoff of some employees. Please click here to learn more. 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

On April 30, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Department of Children and Families announced that the SNAP recipients' maximum monthly allotment will be increased. The increase in maximum monthly allotment has been extended through July, and will likely be extended again for the month of August. Please click here to learn more or to apply for SNAP benefits.

Florida Housing Finance Corporation

On June 25th, the Governor announced that he will allocate $250 million in CARES Act funds for housing relief. Administered by Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC), $120 million will be provided in short-term rental assistance for COVID-19 impacted households residing at multifamily rental properties in FHFC’s portfolio. FHFC will reimburse participating properties to subsidize eligible households’ rents for each impacted month. The rental assistance will be available to help pay a household’s rent for eligible months from July through December 2020. The household may be eligible for assistance to pay rent arrearages accrued during the months of April, May and June 2020.

  • FHFC property managers and owners seeking assistance for their residents must apply for these funds. To learn more about receiving these funds, please click on the link below.

Funds for FHFC Properties 

A separate pool of $120 million will be released to counties based on a county’s reemployment assistance rate for the determined disbursement period. These funds would be used for rental and homeowner assistance programs such as new construction, rehabilitation, mortgage buydowns, down payment and closing cost assistance, emergency repairs and homeownership counseling for individuals impacted by COVID-19. The allocation also includes $200,000 for technical assistance to local governments. On July 17th, the Governor announced an inital $75 million would be released. The state will determine if more is needed at a later date.

  • For a list of the intial $75 million released to local governments to be used for rent/mortgage relief, please click on the link below. It is important to note that these funds may replenish a local relief fund that had previously exhuasted its funds.

Allocated funds to local municipalities 

Local Government Assistance Programs In SWFAA

Lee County CARES Program

  • This program will assist those who have had a loss of employment or reduced work hours due to COVID-19. Total funding for the program includes $22 million. The maximum assistance is $2,000 per household. Individuals will be awarded one-time assistance based on their specific documented needs, such as utility bills or overdue rent, that have accumulated due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be required to provide documentation of these needs. Payments will be made directly to the landlord, mortgage company and/or utility company. Household income must be less than $55,000/year at time of application. Please click here to learn more. 

Note: Applications opened on May 26th, 2020 and the county is continuing to accept applications at this time. Roughly $10 million of the fund's total $22 million has been distributed. 

Lee County CARES Individual Assistance Program FAQs

Lee County Small Business Rehire Program

  • This program is intended to help businesses rehire employees who lost their job because of COVID-19. Employees must have been rehired on or after July 6, 2020 to be elligible. Business must have 250 or fewer employees, and the business owner must be a Lee County resident. 501(c)3 or 501(c)19 are also eligible for this program. The business may receive a $5,000 grant for each full time employee (or equivalent) rehired. Please click here to learn more. 

Note: The county is currently accepting applications. Roughly $6 million of the fund's total $25 million has been distributed.

Lee County Small Business Rehire Program

Fort Myers Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance Program

  • It is designed to assist households below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). Participants must provide proof that their hardship is due to the pandemic. The funds will provide up to $750 per month for three months for rent and utility payment assistance and foreclosure counseling. To learn more, please click here

Note: Due to overwhelming demand, the city is no longer accepting applications for the Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance Program as of April 24th. 

Collier County Individual Assistance Program

  • This program will assist individuals who have lost their job, been furloughed or have experienced a reduction of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals will be awarded one-time assistance up to $11,250 per household based on their specific documented needs, such as past due and current utility (electric only) bills and/or overdue and current rent. You must submit certain information to qualify. A comprehensive list of documentation is listed on the application, but you will need to submit necessary income documentation, acknowledgement forms, and lease or mortgage statement, among other required documents. Payments will be made directly to the utility agency and/or landlord. To learn more about this program, please click here

Note: Applications will be available at 8:00AM on August 17th until 12:00PM on August 31st, 2020. 

Collier County Individual Assistance Program FAQ

Collier County Small Business Relaunch and Rehire Grants

  • Small businesses (50 full-time equivalent (FTE) or fewer  employees) in Collier County that have suffered significant temporary loss of revenue or job losses directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly businesses that have been directly affected by state business closure orders, are eligible. Eligible small businesses may receive a one-time grant up to $25,000. Please click here to learn more. 

Note: Applications will be available at 8:00AM on August 31st until 12:00PM on September 8th, 2020.

Collier County Small Business Grant FAQ

National Non-profits

Another Round Another Rally

  • Another Round Another rally provides grants to chefs, servers, bartenders, dishwashers, sommeliers, managers or someone who holds any other type of hospitality role, they may be able to help. Another Round Another Rally is offering $500 relief grants for hospitality workers who lost their jobs or had their hours slashed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. To apply for a grant, please click here.

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program

  • The Bartender Emergency Assistance Program provides relief to bartenders and others in the service industry who have been affected by COVID-19. To learn more, please click here

Feeding America

  • Feeding America is providing emergency food banks for people affected by COVID-19. To find your local distribution center please click here

Golden Rule Charity

  • The Golden Rule Charity provides grants to hospitality workers in need. To learn more, please click here

Resident Relief Foundation

  • The Resident Relief Foundation provides rental assistance for residents who are facing eviction for the first time. Please click here for more information. 

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

  • The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund helps restaurant industry employees who are experiencing hardship as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Through this fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, whether it was through a decrease in wages or loss of employment. If you would like to donate to this fund or learn more about it, please click here

United Way Fund