Orlando moves toward new contract with KPMG for rental assistance

·3 min read

Orlando has chosen a familiar company to operate its federally funded rental assistance program: The same firm that ran it the first time around.

The city council will vote Monday on allowing a staffer to negotiate a contract with KPMG to disburse $5.15 million in emergency rental assistance over the next year. The program is expected to resume accepting applications later this month, though an official date isn’t known, a city spokesperson said.

The contract calls for KPMG to receive $1.635 million to cover personnel and operating costs, which is a significant bump from the previous deal. Under an emergency contract inked last April, the company was paid $755,000 to run the program.

That’s because the first Emergency Rental Assistance Program had rules stipulating only 10% of the funding could be spent on administrative costs, while in the second phase, that figure was increased, said Samantha Holsten, a city spokesperson.

In the new agreement, $950,000 would cover personnel costs to administer the program, and $685,000 would provide services like case management and other housing stability services. The amounts are based on a portion of the city’s overall $6.87 million allotment in federal relief funds.

“Under the second phase, the US Treasury increased the amount to 15% so that communities would have adequate funding to expediently administer the program without having to supplement with local funds,” Holsten said in an email. “This phase of funding also allows an additional 10% for Housing Stability Services, which is included in the contract with KPMG. Housing Stability Services will be provided through counseling to prevent evictions, or to assist tenants in finding new housing and when necessary pay fees, deposits, and rent for the new unit.”

The agenda item states KPMG believes it can exhaust this latest fund within seven months, but the contract lasts a year, with four additional one-year options. It hints the city could further supplement the fund from its own budget if necessary.

“There are many unknown factors involved (level of need, quality of applications received, etc.) and as a result it is difficult to determine the length of time necessary to process applications and disperse funds. General funds may be needed to administer the program if the Housing Director determines the program needs to be extended beyond the original funding period,” the agenda reads.

In November, the city had to pause the rental assistance program, which had helped more than 1,600 households during the pandemic cover rent and utility payments. The average payout was around $5,200 for people who were economically impacted by the pandemic.

The city had exhausted one $8.67 million allotment from the federal government under the emergency contract. But before starting the next round of payments, the contract needed bids, which two companies, including KPMG, submitted.

During the pause, Orange County opened up its rental assistance portal to Orlando residents, but the county said it wasn’t sure how many city residents had taken advantage.

rygillespie@orlandosentinel.com

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