TAMPA — Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa have $28 million available to aid people unable to pay rent or utilities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county, which is administering the program for both governments, will begin accepting applications Tuesday. It anticipates being able to offer help to 6,000 tenants.
Dubbed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the effort previously distributed nearly $53.8 million to more than 13,800 applicants. The average grant was $3,897 to cover rent payments for 3.4 months. Additionally, the program provided an average of $229 to cover electric utility bills.
The rental payment applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. More than 26,000 applied previously, with the county approving 52 percent of the requests.
The county paused the program until it received the balance of a previously announced allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Those dollars are now in hand and the rental help is beginning again.
Eligible expenses for a household include up to 12 months of past-due rent from March 13, 2020, or later, and up to three months of future rental payments. Prospective rental payments are available to applicants unable to stay current with rent, or who are facing potential eviction.
Payments go directly to landlords, so it is essential for them to register to participate, the county said in a news release.
Online applications for tenants and landlord registration are available at r3.hcflgov.net/
Since the rental assistance program began in 2020, the county said its call center received more than 107,000 inquiries. That is a daily average of 417 families and 39 landlords seeking assistance or information.