Millions in rent assistance goes unused; applicants sought in Hillsborough County


HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – There is help available for renters behind on their payments, but Hillsborough County says there are not enough people applying.

The county says they have millions of dollars they can’t give it away. Not because there isn’t a need but because people aren’t coming forward and that includes the landlords who aren’t getting what they’re owed.

“We know that there’s a need there for this,” said Luisa Rodriguez with Hillsborough County Social Services.

Representatives with Hillsborough County say there is $44 million on the table for tenants who are behind because of the pandemic, but no one is coming to partake; even though there are thousands of people hungry to stay in their homes.

“Right now we get at least over 1,000 calls a day at our call center asking overall about what services are available from our department,” said Rodriguez.

This money allotted to Hillsborough and Tampa from the CARES Act has a few requirements for renters to qualify. You must be a resident of the county or one of the cities in it such as Plant City, Tampa, or Temple Terrace. You must be past due on your rent dating as far back as March 2020. Applicants must apply through a portal on the county website.

Renters have to provide verification of who they are, how much they earned in 2020, who lives at home, and how they were affected by the pandemic.

“You have to have been impacted by covid specifically and you will have to attest to that in the portal. There are certain questions you have to answer as far as whether you have lost your job or have had a reduction in hours, or maybe you became sick with covid and you weren’t able to work,” said Rodriguez.

The program also requires landlords to register. Payments will go directly to them. To apply click here. Applicants can also call (866) 375-9114.

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