Polk County launches financial rental assistance program

Back in February, Polk County estimated that about 20,000 families in their county were still struggling to pay their rent and were significantly behind on those payments. Starting Tuesday, the county is offering a little bit of relief to tenants who need some help.

Of the $21.8 million Polk County received in federal COVID-19 relief funds, they’re dedicating $17 million to helping tenants catch up on their rent payments. 

For eligible applicants, they plan to pay up to $12,000 on the tenant's behalf, directly to the landlord or utility company, to help cover monthly bills like rent and utilities dating back to April of last year. 

In order to be eligible, an applicant must be a current resident of Polk County and must be able to prove that they’ve encountered financial hardships due to COVID-19 that have made it difficult to keep up with monthly expenses. 

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Applicants must also be able to prove that they are at risk for homelessness or housing instability. 

The county says they will be giving priority to those who make less than 50% of the median income and have been unemployed for at least 90 days or has a household income less than 80% of the median income for the area. 

In order to apply, applicants will need to have a Florida driver’s license, documentation that shows financial hardship as well as statements for rent and utilities that show they are behind on payments. They will also need to have their current rental statement on hand, as well as their 2020 tax return and a W-9 form from their landlord.

Applications will begin to be accepted starting Tuesday morning. 

The county will also be opening up a call center starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday for anyone who has questions: 863-345-2600.

The program will be on a first-come, first-served basis until all of the funds run out. 

For more information, visit the Polk County government’s website.