If you or someone you know has been affected by the pandemic, below is a compilation of federal, state, and local resources that may be helpful.
Although there are broad-spanning resources and assistance programs available through the federal and state government, there are a number of County-specific programs available to both residents and businesses that may help alleviate some of the unexpected financial hardship brought on by COVID-19. We've outlined some of the most notable programs below. Many of the resource links included below continue to be updated in real-time. We encourage you to visit the resources you find more useful for the most accurate information.
Check the Status of your Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check)- The IRS has created the Get My Payment Tool, which allows individuals to check the status of their $1,200 stimulus check. Some Americans have already received their checks and the IRS anticipates a majority of Americans should have this money in their bank accounts no later than April 24th.
- To check your payment status, you will need to input your Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax ID Number (ITIN), birthday and address.
Families First COVID-19 Constituent Service Resource Toolkit- This document gives you a brief overview of resources that may be available to you. It covers the following:
- Unemployment insurance,
- Direct one-time payments,
- Food assistance, and food banks,
- Homeowner and renter protections,
- Energy assistance for low-income families, and
- Student, Educator, Tribal and Veteran-specific resources.
Coronavirus Rumor Control- FEMA has created a page aimed at assisting individuals wishing to verify the credibility and factuality of information circulating about COVID-19.
FAQ on Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act- Recently, Congress passed it's latest and largest coronavirus relief package, which allocates $2.2 trillion in support to individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. Linked above, the Tax Foundation outlines a variety of FAQs that explain how the new law will impact families and businesses.
- By now you've probably been made aware of the one-time direct payments to qualifying individuals. We know bills add up quickly and can easily become overwhelming. Luckily, those receiving this one-time payment are not required to use this money towards any one thing specifically.
- This means you are free (and encouraged) to use this money to help pay for rent or utilities. Although many late-payment fees have been suspended, it's important to understand that this is only a temporary situation and eventually, you will be obligated to pay those bills.
As part of your Coronavirus financial planning, we encourage you to use the CARES Act Rebate Calculate below to see what you may qualify for.
CARES Act Rebate Calculator
- Resident Relief Foundation (RRF)- Due to a high volume of requests in light of COVID-19, RRF is only accepting applications from residents who are facing immediate eviction (have been served an eviction notice)
- HUD-certified Housing Counselor- after typing in your zip code, a housing counselor can help provide advice on buying a home, renting defaults, foreclosures and credit issues.
- Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
- Please note, this program is not intended to serve as a primary source of assistance. Business eligibility is in part, dependant on other financial sources.
- Designated Disaster Areas: All Florida counties per Executive Order #20-52.
- SBA Disaster Assistance-Loan Program
- Florida Department of Economic Opportunity- If your employment status has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive reemployment assistance.
- Florida Housing Finance Corporation
- Florida Chamber of Commerce
- Florida Public Service Commission
- Florida Department of Revenue
- Florida Department of Financial Services (CFO's Office)
- Florida Department of Children and Families- DCF offers Food Assistance (SNAP), Temporary Cash Assistance (TANF) and Medicaid. They continue to update their resources and encourage those in need to continue to check their website for the most current information.
- Florida Department of Education- On March 31st, Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, recommended that all Florida public schools, as well as, private K-12 campuses extend campus closures through May 1, 2020. Additional guidance will be released within the coming days.
- Student Advanced Placement (AP): On March 25th, Florida students have access to free, live-streaming advanced placement review lessons that will be delivered by teachers across the country. These classes are designed to be used alongside existing course work. Additionally, the College Board is in the process of developing secure, 45 minute online exams that cover the course content of each class that schools should have completed by early March. You can find more information about this, here.
- LIHEAP Energy Assistance- this program provides grants to local governments and non-profits to assist low-income households in paying for home heating and cooling costs.
- Duke Energy- Duke Energy has temporarily suspended disconnections for nonpayment and begun waiving late fees on March 21, 2020.
- Home Internet Access- As we continue to shift to an online world, this transition can prove difficult for those who do not have internet access.
- For families in need of internet connectivity, Charter Communications will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students. To enroll, call: 1-844-488-8395
- Additionally, the internet providers listed below have created affordable internet packages for income-eligible households.
Central Florida Resources
CareerSource Central Florida- CareerSource provides information for displaced workers and resources for reemployment, unemployment filings and job fairs.
Meals of Love- Seniors and adults (18 years or older) with a disability may be eligible to receive Meals of Love, meals on wheels service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals may use the tool located on the Meals of Love website (above) to take a quick self-assessment to see if they qualify.
Covering Central Florida, ACA (Obamacare) Coverage During COVID-19- If you have lost your job as a result of COVID-19, there is a 60-day eligibility coverage window for you and your family to sign up for health coverage through your County. Covering Central Florida is conducting all appointments virtually.
Special Senior Shopping Hours- Participating stores have dedicated certain hours on certain days for seniors to shop safely and worry-free amid the pandemic. A few of these stores include Publix, Target, Walmart and Trader Joe's. Specific hours and days can be found by clicking on the gold title, "Special Senior Shopping Hours" above.
Each County within our jurisdiction has a handful of assistance-based programs in place to help aid and mitigate the uncertainties posed by the Coronavirus. For a comprehensive list of all available resources, click on each County.
Home and Utility-
- Orange County Utilities- OCU has temporarily suspended late payment fees for residential water and wastewater customers and has suspended disconnections for non-payment.
- Mortgage Foreclosures and Rent Evictions- The Orange County Cleck of Courts has been directed to suspend all actions related to mortgage foreclosure causes of action, cancel all pending mortgage foreclosure sales, and suspend all actions related to residential eviction causes of action filed in their respective jurisdictions through Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
Food and Health-
- Food Locator- Residents in need of food assistance can visit the Second Harvest Food Bank's online food locator to access a list of "feeding partners" near them.
- Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Grab & Go Meals- Meals are available for pick up (via car loop at participating sites) between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM, Monday - Friday. Students no longer need to be present to receive meals, but parents must provide the student's name for whom they are picking up the meals.
- Starting on April 10th, Friday grab-and-go meals will include three days worth of meals to cover weekend needs.
- For a list of participating school sites, click on "Orange County Public Schools..."
- Seniors First- Seniors First provides direct assistance to central Florida's elderly population. Through the Seniors First website, you can access home care providers, guardianship, meals on wheels assistance and more.
- Health Insurance- Residents Who have lost their health insurance or have experienced a change in income within the last 60 days may qualify for a special enrollment period through the federal ACA Marketplace.
Home and Utility-
- Mortgage Foreclosures and Rent Evictions- The Osceola County Cleck of Courts has been directed to suspend all actions related to mortgage foreclosure causes of action, cancel all pending mortgage foreclosure sales, and suspend all actions related to residential eviction causes of action filed in their respective jurisdictions through Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
- Emergency Housing Assistance- Osceola County announced that starting Monday, April 6th the Housing Office will begin accepting applications for families who have lost their jobs or who are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19.
- To determine whether an applicant qualifies, they will need to show proof of job loss, current lease, social security card, birth certificate and an additional form of documentation yet to be announced. Applications will be handled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Food and Health-
- The School District of Osceola County will be distributing Grab-and-Go meals for children 18 years and under through May 1, 2020, at designated locations Monday- Friday from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM.
- Families can go to the site nearest them to pick up meals, even if they do not attend that school. Children do not need to be present to receive meals, but parents must be prepared to provide supporting documentation that identifies the child for whom they are picking up meal(s) for.
- The Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County- The Early Learning Coalition has an FAQ fact sheet for families and offers a variety of childcare resources.
- Food Locator- Second Harvest Food Bank has a blog that covers Central Florida resources for free meals for children and lists by-County school sites participating in the Grab-and-Go meal program.
- The Osceola Council on Aging- OCA offers Adult Day Care, Energy Assistance, Weatherization, In-Home Services, and more to seniors in need.
Home and Utility-
- Rental Assistance Program- Community Assistance has removed some of the common requirements to better assist residents impacted by COVID-19. The program offers a one-time financial stipend and all applicants are currently being placed on a waiting list due to an influx in need.
Food and Health-
- Food Pantry/Community Kitchens- Seminole County has compiled a list of community service sites that are offering meal assistance. The list includes the name, location, services, and hours of operation.
Announcement on Trash and Recycling Procedural Change- Seminole County is asking residents to sort recyclables before placing curbside, to ensure the health and safety of collections crews and customers.
Home and Utility-
- City of Mount Dora Electric Utility Department Reduces Rates- The City of Mount Dora issued a Press Release on April 1st, stating that the Electric Utility Department was able to lower their rates by 7.9%- 10.7% depending on customer usage during the pandemic.
Food and Health-
- Student Meal Assistance- Starting April 13th, Lake County Schools will be offering Grab-and-Go meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students will receive four meals on Tuesdays and 6 meals on Thursdays. Meals can be picked up at the locations linked here from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
- Lake Support and Emergency Recovery (L.A.S.E.R.)- Partnering with the Lake County Sheriff's office, LASER has an on-going food drive to support families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Home and Utility-
- United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties- To assist Volusia and Flagler County residents and families, United Way has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist in communal recovery efforts.
- Volusia County's Community Assistance Division- The Division has made two programs available to families and individuals negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Rental Assistance- Volusia County will accept applications from households that have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and funding availability is limited.
- Community Block Grant Program- Qualifying individuals must meet the criteria outlined in the Community Services Block Grant Program.
- Appointments are only available by phone and can be made by calling (386) 239-7757.
Food and Health-
- Student Meal Assistance- Volusia County School's, School Way Cafe changed its meal distribution schedule to Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Upon pick up, families will receive two-three days' worth of meals when they come to pick up food.
- Students must either be present at pick or parents will need to show student-issued documentation to receive meals.