Collier County to host in-person rental assistance support event in Immokalee
Collier is hosting in-person support in Immokalee for residents who wish to apply for the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, an aid program meant to help those financially affected by COVID-19.
Residents who believe they qualify for assistance can visit the Immokalee Library on 1st Street on Dec. 16 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Dec. 18 between 9 a.m. and noon.
Assistance is available if one or more individuals in a household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced lost income or other financial hardships due to COVID-19.
Maggie Lopez, with the county's Community and Human Services Division, said the county had success with similar outreach at Anthony Park in Naples.
“We get to meet face-to-face with people needing assistance and walk them through the process,” Lopez said. “The (Immokalee) Library has a lot of resources for making copies of documents, starting applications on computers, and we can answer any questions they have.”
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Those wishing to apply for assistance must bring a valid photo identification, proof of citizenship, income verification, utility bills and landlord information with them to the library.
In October, Collier’s board of commissioners modified the program to speed up the process and allow rapid response to residents in need.
Commissioner Bill McDaniel said the Salvation Army, United Way and other organizations have also been helpful in assisting residents who financially suffered during COVID-19.
“The utility department over in Immokalee early on last year has helped people who weren’t able to make water payments and so on,” McDaniel said. “They actually worked to forebear outstanding (bills) and let those folks make smaller payments on future bills to not have utilities shut off. Everybody is really cooperative, and there is no argument that no soul has not been impacted because of that virus.”
The program now has a streamlined documentation requirement, credit recovery assistance for evicted tenants affected by COVID-19 — which includes a backpay of rent — and hotel assistance for evicted tenants still in need of housing, according to a news release.
The program is run through the county’s Community and Human Services Division, which addresses affordable housing and social service needs.
The program provides money for any relocation expenses if a household has been displaced due to COVID-19, accrued late fees and internet service.
“Funding is allocated on a first-come, first-qualified basis to those who meet the eligibility criteria and submit completed documents for approval,” the county’s website says. “Financial assistance will be given to qualified applicants until relief funds are exhausted. Priority will be given to those at 50% average median income and below, and those households where a member is currently receiving unemployment for at least 90 days.”
Residents do not have to be behind on rent to quality for emergency rental assistance, but the funds are limited to three months and applicants must requalify every three-month period.
If residents are unable to make the in-person events, applications can be submitted online at CollierCountyHousing.com.
For more information, residents can call Community and Human Services at (239) 252-CARE (2273).
Karl Schneider is a Naples Daily News reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @karlstartswithk