ORLANDO, Fla. - The City of Orlando will be launching an emergency rental assistance program in mid-May to help people who have taken a financial hit because of COVID-19.
Orlando was awarded 8.6 million dollars in COVID-19 relief funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury for emergency rental assistance. On Monday, the Orlando City Commission approved an agreement with company KPMG to administer the program and will pay the company $755,000 for their services, with more than $7.8 million available for emergency rental assistance.
People who live within the city limits will be able to apply for up to one year’s worth of past-due rent as long as the monthly rent does not exceed $4,000 and it is within the last 12 months. The payments will be made directly to the landlord.
Residents must also have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income, which, for a family of four, is $61,050. Priority will be given to people who have been unemployed for 90 days and to households at or below 50% of the area median income, which, for a family of four is $38,150.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the city will be using Neighborly software for the online application portal and expects the portal to open in mid-May and stay open until all the money is gone. That is different than Orange County’s recent emergency rental assistance program, which opened on certain days and oftentimes became overwhelmed in minutes.
Dyer said, "We have the benefit of their experience and we also have the benefit of using KPMG to the administer so we think we’re going to have a pretty flawless operation... They have experience in doing big things like this and they have the personnel. They can do it and they’re not learning on the job so to speak so they’ll, basically be able to give customer assistance to those who are applying so I think it’ll be a smooth operation."
People will need to have the following documentation ready when applying for rental assistance:
- 2020 tax returns to prove income
- Proof of occupancy in rental residence: (copy of lease/rental agreement, rent receipts, evidence of regular rental payments)
- Documentation showing financial impact because of COVID
Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill (District 5) said officials are looking into ways to ensure people who do not have their 2020 tax returns can still apply for the program. She also said organizations will be doing outreach at community centers and apartment complexes to help people apply for rental assistance.
"KPMG, through their affiliates, which are also a minority company, will be coming into our communities with their pads in hands, making sure that they help those that might have a tough time applying." Hill said. "That’s huge. That circumvents all those obstacles of not being able to get through because the lines are crashing, that circumvents those that might be part of the digital divide, that don’t have internet access to actually go online and apply."
About 1,000 people have expressed interest in the program. For more information and to sign-up for email updates, including when the application portal will open, visit the City of Orlando website.