By Viviana Janer
As the chairwoman of the Osceola County Commission, I want to let readers know that Osceola cares deeply for those impacted by COVID-19.
While people can social distance, wear a face covering and follow CDC guidelines to stop the spread of the disease, the County Commission is trying to help on the financial front with three programs – rental and mortgage payment assistance, eviction diversion and utility assistance.
The Utility and Eviction diversion programs are new. As the scope of the financial disaster spawned grows, so too does our assistance.
Funded by Federal CARES Act money, the Eviction Diversion program is designed to help Osceola County tenants who are in imminent danger of being evicted. It helps prevent a landlord from initiating the eviction process by paying rent that is due. It will keep an eviction from appearing on the tenant’s permanent record, which is important months from now as people look at housing options.
This program should give renters a chance to get back on their feet, while not punishing landlords by providing a short-term flow of income so they don’t lose their investments.
Landlords and tenants with pending court action will receive letters from the county. To be considered eligible for the program, applications must be completed by both.
Now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has removed the state’s eviction moratorium, those at risk of eviction, also should note that the CDC has issued a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year. This federal eviction protection order is not automatic, and you must submit a special document provided by the CDC.
As with all our programs, information is available at our website at osceola.org/covid19.
The Utility Assistance program will provide funding to residents who have not been able to pay electric, gas or water bills. Participants must be an Osceola County resident, show proof of impact from COVID-19 and have a past due electric, gas or water bill. There is no cap on the amount an applicant is eligible to receive. The program is open only to residential properties.
Additionally, the county opened another round of housing assistance to pay rent or mortgage obligations.
Information all the programs is available at http://housing.osceola.org.
If you have questions regarding the eviction diversion program, please call 407-742-8440 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions regarding the utility assistance program, please call 407-742-8403.
For those facing food insecurity, please know that the county continues to support local food pantries. A list of those is available at www.osceola.org/covid19 .
As we fight to get through this pandemic, I hope that you will remain safe and be well.
Please feel free to share any of your concerns, ideas or information by calling my office at 407-742-2000 or by email to Viviana.Janer@osceola.org.
Viviana Janer is the Osceola County Commission chairwoman.