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More help from the state and Volusia County is available for pandemic-affected residents facing eviction or foreclosures.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended to Sept. 1 his executive order imposing a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, which he originally imposed in April and then extended twice.

Like the earlier versions of his order, DeSantis’ extension issued July 29 aims “to ensure that mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief is limited to single-family mortgagors and residential tenants adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency,” meaning they sustained “loss of employment, diminished wages or business income, or other monetary loss realized during the Florida State of Emergency directly impacting the ability of a single-family mortgagor to make mortgage payments.”

Although foreclosures and evictions are on hold, the order makes it clear that the affected individuals will still be responsible for making mortgage or rent payments.

“All payments, including tolled payments, are due when an individual is no longer adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency,” the order states.

Before DeSantis extended the moratorium, Volusia County officials allocated another $5 million in emergency rent and mortgage assistance to help local residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and then added an additional $2.5 million to the pot this month.

The council had earmarked an initial $5 million in May to fund the program, part of the county’s Relaunch Volusia plan to help the community recover from the coronavirus crisis. The grant funds — up to $1,500 a month for a maximum of three months — are available for qualified residents who are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage as a direct result of a loss or reduction in income caused by COVID-19.

By mid-July, the total dollar amount of the 1,195 grant applications that have been approved and funded along with the more than 1,200 applications that are under review exceeded the original $5 million. With the allocations approved last month and this month, the total funding earmarked for rent and mortgage assistance for local residents is $12.5 million.

To qualify, the rent or mortgage must have been current as of March 13, 2020. Also, the dwelling unit must be located in Volusia County and be the applicant’s primary residence. And applicants must meet income eligibility criteria to qualify and certify that they’ve suffered a loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic.

For applicants who are eligible and are approved for the grant, the county will make payments directly to the landlord or mortgage holder. Applications are being processed on a first-come, first-served basis and can be obtained by calling Volusia County Community Assistance at 386-736-5955 or by clicking on the link below to visit the website:

www.volusia.org/services/community-services/community-assistance/.

The council also amended the eligibility criteria to allow people who qualify for the county’s COVID-19 home-based business grant to also apply for rent or mortgage assistance.

The money for the programs is coming from federal coronavirus relief funds the county received from the federal government as part of the CARES Act.

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