Miami-Dade is preparing to accept a flood of applications from people unable to pay their rent during the coronavirus crisis as the county launches a $10 million relief program.
The county’s Housing Department will take applications next week for the program that won final approval by the County Commission on Thursday. Online applications will be accepted starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 14, through that Friday, July 17, at 5 p.m. Paper applications are also available at locations listed on the agency’s website, but the instructions urge residents to apply online if they can.
Relief is limited to low-income rental households — earning less than $73,100 for a family of four — that can document a hardship of lowered income from the COVID pandemic. The average payout will likely be between $900 and $1,000, with about 15,000 households helped, according to agency estimates.
Cities have launched similar programs with smaller pools of money, and demand exceeded supply within hours or days. Miami-Dade expects the same flood of applications.
“The need has only risen,” said Alana Greer, director of Miami’s Community Justice Project. “If the other programs are any indicator, I imagine it will be filled within a day or two, possibly shorter.”
Miami-Dade and Florida both have eviction moratoriums in place, so tenants can remain in their homes. The county program pays the relief checks to landlords, providing revenue at a time of widespread pausing of rent payments.
The county legislation passed unanimously, three weeks after Commissioner Esteban ‘”Steve” Bovo blocked a vote in June. Bovo, a candidate for Miami-Dade mayor, voted for the program Thursday after asking questions about the application process and funding. “I get concerned when a government program starts and never goes away,” he said.
The $10 million comes from the county’s $474 million allotment of federal COVID relief from the CARES Act. The legislation by sponsor Eileen Higgins requires the dollars be distributed equally among the 13 commission districts, a concession to Bovo and other commissioners who resisted the original plan to distribute the money to tenants without screening for where they live in the county.
Higgins said at least 30% of the households in each district fit the income requirements, so she expects a crush of applications countywide. Once applications exceed demand, the Housing Department plans a lottery in each district.
“There’s need everywhere,” she said.