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Rental, utility assistance available to Tampa Bay veterans amid pandemic

St. Petersburg nonprofit to cover rental and utility payments for veterans in need to prevent homelessness.
Pamphlets for veteran's services from Hillsborough County are displayed during Operation Reveille, an event by the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative to provide homeless veterans with housing aid in 2019.
Pamphlets for veteran's services from Hillsborough County are displayed during Operation Reveille, an event by the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative to provide homeless veterans with housing aid in 2019. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published May 29, 2020

Tampa Bay veterans at risk of losing their housing during the coronavirus pandemic can get rental and utility payment assistance from the St. Petersburg nonprofit, St. Vincent de Paul CARES.

Eligible veterans in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Citrus, Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Desoto, Highlands, Hardee, Lee and Collier counties can call 1-844-455-7783 to apply for immediate financial assistance, said Michael Raposa, chief executive of the nonprofit. Funding is available through July 31.

The funds of at least $2 million, administered by the local nonprofit, come from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, Raposa said.

The national program received a boost from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to “mitigate the expected wave of evictions and potential homelessness that will result from extensive unemployment,” according to a release. Other programs with a boost in funding included the Grant and Per Diem Program that helps community organizations provide transitional housing and supportive services to veterans in need, and the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program, which offers emergency shelter and treatment.

“A significant percentage of homeless veterans or those at risk of homelessness are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their living conditions, age and chronic health complications,” said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie in a statement.

Eligible low-income veterans must have an income less than 50 percent of the area median income, lack the resources to maintain stable housing and have been honorably discharged, Raposa said. While the program cannot assist with mortgage expenses, homeowners can still seek utility payment assistance, he said.

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