FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security to offer rent and mortgage assistance

By Cindy Jackson
Reporter
July 31, 2020

On July 27, 2020, The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved two programs designed to provide relief to Nassau County residents suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first program approved is designed to assist small businesses and the second to help residents who are having difficulties making rent and mortgage payments.

The BOCC unanimously agreed to support both.

Funds for rent and mortgage assistance have been made available from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). Nassau County has received an estimated $372,504 for rental and mortgage assistance, as reported by Mr. David Jahosky, Managing Director for the Government Services Group (GSG) — the firm hired to serve as a third-party contractor to outline and oversee how CARES funding is distributed and managed.

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our community. The unemployment rate here for June 2020 was 7.4% compared to a year ago when it was 3.2%. Statewide, that number is 10.4% with most job losses occurring in the leisure and hospitality industries.

Providing rental and mortgage assistance in just another way the County is trying to help its residents. For qualifying applicants, rental assistance can be provided for back rent, security deposits or utility payments. Mortgage assistance is restricted to just mortgage payments.

Qualifying for these funds requires a minimum yearly income of $83,000. That figure is 120% of the area’s (Nassau County’s) medium and is somewhat higher than the average income used for the state’s SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Program) program.

GSG and its community partners agreed the “most impactful way of helping” residents of Nassau County would equate to a multi-monthly payment. Three months to be exact.

The end result – awards made will be for an estimated $900-$1,000 dollars a month for a period of three months. Based on the calculations done by GSG (and community partners), it is estimated that some 102 households will be eligible.

Efficiency in all CARES programs is the name of the game, and if the County is effective in managing this program, additional monies may be released in the September/October timeframe. The program will cease as of December 31, 2020.

Reached by email, Carol Gilchrist, Grants Specialist and SHIP Administrator for the Nassau Board of County Commissioners explained “We are still working on the processes and have a tentative date of August 5th when the applications will be available. We are finalizing the advertising today and will run ads in local papers, as well as, social media. Applicants do not have to be a current client of SHIP to apply.

A two-week application period is expected and to avoid long lines forming, applications will receive a randomly assigned number to level the playing field so it is not first-come/first serve.

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