With phones jammed, Hillsborough opens online portal to apply for coronavirus aid

With their phone system overwhelmed, Hillsborough County says residents who need financial help because of the COVID-19 shutdown can now apply for help online.

The county’s Rapid Response Recovery (R3) Program opened applications on Monday, but the phone system was immediately overwhelmed.

Wednesday morning, the county unveiled an online application tool. Residents can go to HCFLGov.net/R3 to apply or find out additional details about the program, including eligibility criteria and documentation needed to complete the application. 

Because of funding constraints, the county will accept a maximum of 3,000 online applications.

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Previously, Hillsborough County officials explained that they had secured $256-million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. An immediate $15 million was allocated to the Social Services Department to serve all Hillsborough residents impacted by the devastating effects of COVID-19. 

The $15-million funding is the first to come through the R3 program.

The funds can be used to pay past-due utility bills and/or lease/mortgage payments in the name of the person applying for assistance. For instance, if the electric bill is in your spouse’s name, your spouse must be the one to apply for R3 assistance with Social Services.

Hillsborough residents can still call the Rapid Response Assistance Call Center at (813) 274-6710. The call center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.