With thousands of families losing their jobs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami-Dade County (MDC) has launched a $10 million relief plan to aid approximately 15,000 households. This plan, an extension from the previous 3-month long relief plan issued in July, does not come without limitations. The relief is for families of four or more who bring in a joint income of $73,000 or less. The limitation of the income may underestimate how much a family of four or more are making.
“A lot of limitations affected workers who were fired and not laid-off by their jobs. The applying process becomes a bit harder with all these limitations put in place,” senior Melanie Cervelo said.
MDC’s Housing Department started taking applications online on July 14 at 9 a.m. and stopped accepting applications July 17 at 5 p.m. The average relief for families who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is around $900-$1,000, with the money coming from the county’s $474 million grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“MDC was right in creating a relief plan since a lot of people were affected by the closing of everything and losing their jobs permanently or for long periods of time. Paying for rent grows harder especially when you need to buy basic needs like groceries,” Cervelo said.
Both MDC and Florida as a whole have postponed any evictions, this way tenants can stay in their homes during the pandemic. The county program also pays the relief checks to the landlord, thus providing revenue during a period of paused rent checks. Although this postponing has helped, it expires on Oct. 1. Tenants are now left unsure as to whether or not they will get an extension on the postponing of evictions.
MDC District 5 commissioner Eileen Higgins required that the money be equally distributed among all 13 commission districts. She expected that at least 30% of households in each district fit the income requirements. After the maximum number of applications is reached, the Housing Department will have a lottery in each district.
MDC’s initiative will be a one time benefit to assist tenants who have a low or moderate income for one month only. Tenants must have a current lease signed by the landlord in MDC, but they cannot also be a recipient of another relief program, such as the emergency solutions grant, veteran affairs supportive housing or public housing.
“My family’s income has definitely been a problem. The pandemic has affected many families around the world. In my opinion, families need all the help we can get. Even if we don’t agree with all the limitations, we’ll have to deal with it and work with what we’ve got.” sophomore Bridget Gelats said.
Although there are several limitations, this $10 million rent relief program would provide an opportunity for families and struggling households to catch up with their rent.