Osceola continues its efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts on Monday – taking applications for another round of housing assistance and opening a new testing site at Osceola Heritage Park.
Applications for Monday’s round of rental assistance and mortgage foreclosure prevention will be open for three days using CDBG Grant funding only available to residents of unincorporated Osceola County impacted by the Coronavirus. (NOTE: The next round of housing assistance will tap into $13.2 million of CARES Act funding and will be open to ALL Osceola residents, including the cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud.)
Residents can visit Housing.Osceola.org to find videos in English and Spanish that explain the program and application process. Residents will have three days to submit their applications beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 6, through 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 9.
The process for applying has been updated to ensure a fair and equitable way for families to seek assistance. After the three-day application period, each application will be assigned a “lottery” number and selected through a random, computer-generated process. Selected applications will be processed accordingly until this round of funding has been exhausted. Applicants will still need to meet certain criteria to be eligible.
With this assistance, the county will pay two months of rent or mortgage payments, up to a maximum of $2,500 per household. About $940,000 will be available to applicants in this upcoming round.
“It is important to offer our hard-working residents assistance during this pandemic. They need help to keep a roof over their heads, help to keep food in their pantries and help to protect their livelihoods,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “At the same time we need everyone’s help to slow the spread of this virus. Residents have to do their part. That means wearing a face covering in pubic. It means washing your hands frequently and it means maintaining proper social distance at all times. The message isn’t changing because without a vaccine there are not a lot options to combat the virus.”
Also beginning on Monday, July 6, drive-through COVID-19 testing will be offered by the Florida Department of Health-Osceola at Osceola Heritage Park. Testing will be offered to anyone age 18 and older from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are not necessary and there is no symptom criteria. Health officials estimate daily capacity at about 400. Residents should plan for potential waits and make sure to top off the fuel in their vehicles. Air conditioning should function and car windows need to be able to go up and down.
In light of increased cases, Osceola residents are reminded to continue to wear face coverings while in public places, as required by the County’s emergency order issued in April, and to continue proper physical distancing and frequent handwashing.
“Everyone must take this seriously. Unfortunately some people aren’t and the spike in numbers proves that,” Janer said. “People need to take personal responsibility and while you may not be at risk, someone you care for could be. So please be responsible and sensible. As Fourth of July approaches, please think about how you celebrate, where you celebrate and who you celebrate with.”
Businesses operating in Osceola are also reminded that they are expected to comply with emergency orders, including requiring both staff and patrons to follow the local face covering order, and abide by the state’s “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” plan, as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended social distancing and enhanced sanitation practices.
· Registration for housing assistance can be found at Housing.Osceola.Org
The subsequent round of assistance is scheduled for Aug. 3 and will be open to all residents including those who live in St. Cloud and Kissimmee.
· The county is using $3.2 million of its CARES Act allocation for an Emergency Economic Relief Grant Program, which is taking applications at www.weveopenedsafely.com. Businesses within the cities of St. Cloud and Kissimmee are eligible to apply.