Some Polk residents may qualify for COVID-19 relief programs

Help is on the way for those trying to keep a roof over their heads in the wake of COVID-19. Monday morning, two new programs kick off.

The first, sponsored by the city of Lakeland, is called the Emergency Rent Relief.

“We are expecting a great number of calls, and we are hoping we can keep up with the workload,” said city spokesman Kevin Cook.

The city has put aside close to $1-million to help people whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus. They have to make less than $47,000 for a family of four.

The program will pay up to $5,000 for rent and utilities for up to five months. It kicks off May 4.

The second program, run by the Keystone Challenge Fund, will coach Polk County homeowners how to ask their mortgage holder for forbearance. In other words, how they may be able to put off paying their mortgage, possibly for up to a year.

After the deferment is over, Keystone will help the homeowner structure a re-payment plan.

“It could increase your payments,” explained Jeff Bagwell, executive director of Keystone. “There are some institutions that are actually putting it on as a second mortgage.”


- To find out more about Keystone, go to
- For rent relief, go to or call (863) 834-CARE (2273)