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Renters in need can get personalized help in Manatee County

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:13 AM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Starting next week, Manatee County will offer one-on-one support to anyone who needs help applying for Emergency Rental Assistance funds available to help those who have fallen behind on rent payments because of losses from the pandemic.

Beginning Wednesday, June 16, county staff will offer advice and help for navigating the online application at three central locations: the downtown Central Library, Palmetto Library and Gulfcoast Legal Services, located in the CareerSource Suncoast building at 1112 Manatee Avenue East.

The “ambassadors” at the libraries are bilingual, able to help both English and Spanish-speaking residents. Because dates, hours and locations may change based on turnout, full details for ERA help are being kept up-to-date at www.mymanatee.org/RentHelp

“The staff ambassadors out in the community is an idea that came about from our local nonprofit agencies who suggested having someone available at convenient locations during a variety of hours -- including some evening and Saturday hours -- to help those who need help,” said Geri Lopez, director of the Redevelopment and Economic Opportunity Department. “We’re calling the staff representatives ‘ambassadors’ because they’ll be there to help guide and assist applicants through the process and hopefully remove some of the confusion over applying.”

To date, about 300 Manatee County applicants have been approved for Emergency Rental Assistance funds totaling $1.8 million.

Under the ERA, eligible renters may receive grant funds for up to 12 months, if needed, through November 2021, whichever is less. Funds are paid directly to the landlord for delinquent rent bills. Full details and the application portal can be found at www.mymanatee.org/renthelp

Applicants must be at or below 80 percent of the area median income, -- $43,850/year for a one-person household. Renters who are at or below 50 percent of the AMI ($26,800/year for a one-person household) are given priority, along with those who have documented unemployment for more than 90 days. This is based on the number of people living in a household and the total income for everyone in the household.

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