Pinellas: Residents, businesses can apply for more COVID-19 help

Pinellas CARES Programs offer rent, mortgage and utilities assistance for individuals and grants for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 Applicants may be eligible for additional assistance even if they’ve received help before Local agencies also offering legal help for evictions as well as re-employment training Program details at: http://cares.pinellas.gov. More than 10,000 individuals, families and businesses have received direct financial assistance through Pinellas CARES programs, and many may qualify for more help even if they’ve applied before. The programs, funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, help those hit hardest by COVID-19 through assistance with rent, mortgage and utilities, and grants for small businesses, including: Individuals and businesses that have previously applied for help through CARES or other local programs may qualify for more assistance if they have not received the maximum award amounts. With the Oct. 1 expiration of the statewide moratorium on evictions, Pinellas County has also partnered with several local agencies to provide legal and financial assistance to tenants and landlords. Additionally, $2 million in Pinellas CARES funding is supporting new training programs for local workers who lost their job due to COVID-19 through a new CareerSource Pinellas program. The new PinellasWorks programs provide on-the-job training opportunities, direct job placement, short-term occupational skills training certifications and other services. The program also offers qualifying businesses 100 percent reimbursement for costs of training new employees. For more information, visit www.careersourcepinellas.com/pinellasworks. Details about all Pinellas CARES programs can be found at: http://cares.pinellas.gov. Program Details Eviction Assistance Pinellas CARES funding is supporting the following programs that provide free legal mediation to resolve evictions for people impacted by COVID-19: Up to $5,000 per household for overdue rent, mortgage and utility bills Up to $10,000 max per business for restaurants, bars, hotels and many other small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic based on a sliding scale (home-based businesses may qualify) Gulf Coast Legal Services: (800) 230-5920 Bay Area Legal Services: (800) 625-2257 Community Law Program: (727) 582-7475 (tenants/landlords) Tenants that are overdue on rent should not wait for an eviction notice to seek help and may be eligible for financial assistance through Pinellas CARES or other programs to pay bills. More details: http://bit.ly/eviction-help Financial Assistance for Individuals and Families Rent, mortgage and utility assistance available up to $5,000 per household for overdue bills since March 1, 2020. To start the process, text the word COVIDCARES to 898211. Eligible applicants will be asked to send the following documents to help@211tampabay.org: Picture or scan of the unpaid bill Picture or scan of documents verifying U.S. and Pinellas County residency After these documents are submitted, applicants will be sent a form to sign attesting that they lost their job or income due to COVID-19 and have no more than $10,000 in cash, checking or savings. For detailed information on document requirements, visit: https://211tampabay.org/programs/covid-cares Due to the widespread impact of the pandemic on the local community, this program is experiencing a high volume of requests. Payments will take several weeks to arrive from the time documents are submitted for review. Applicants who did not previously qualify for the program or who already received help, but need assistance for additional overdue bills, can apply again with a maximum of $5,000 per household. Local Business Grants Overview Grants up to $10,000 for Pinellas-based businesses most affected by the pandemic: generally, those that were required to shut down or whose customers were required to shut down or stop doing business. Businesses that have already applied for or received funding from previous local grant programs are still eligible for this program, and businesses that apply for this program may also apply for current or future local grants. Qualifying business owners can use a single online application to be considered for one of the following grants: Sliding Scale Grants: $2,500 to $10,000 grants for businesses making between $17,000 and $3 million in gross annual revenue. Health & Safety Matching Grants: up to $10,000 to assist Target Industry businesses in implementing COVID-19-related upgrades and safety precautions. Business Diversity and Arts Microgrants: help impacted business owners with barriers to participation in other grant programs strengthen their business through direct financial assistance and professional services, including help with post-COVID business planning, record-keeping and preparing documents needed to apply for other types of grant funding. A detailed list of all program qualifications and a link to the online application can be found at: https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/pinellascaresbusiness. CARES Funds can only be used to reimburse losses caused by COVID-19 that are not paid by insurance or by another federal grant or program. These costs may include employee wages, vendors, rent or other business expenses. Applicants are strongly encouraged to take their time to submit a full application, including all required documentation, for the quickest response. Pinellas CARES Background Pinellas CARES also supports several other countywide initiatives, including: grants for nonprofits and licensed child care providers, bolstering local pandemic response through increasing local capacity for testing, contact tracing, skilled nursing, personal protective equipment (PPE), community health educators, other public health measures, and workforce reemployment programs. Information on all programs can be found at: http://cares.pinellas.gov.
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