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ADOBE STOCK PHOTO OUT OF REACH? — Rents in DeLand and around West Volusia have risen in recent years, threatening the affordability of quality housing for low- and middle-income individuals.

Volusia County’s Emergency Rental Assistance program has funds available to assist households that have experienced a financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible households may receive up to nine months of rental and utility arrears and three months of forward assistance.

The funds are left over from a previous federal grant that was not entirely utilized.

Applications will be accepted beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12. At that time, county residents may submit an application online at www.volusia.org/era. Income limits and a list of required documents are already posted on the page.

With finite funds available, the county will close the application window after receiving 500 applications to ensure assistance is available for all accepted applicants. It’s expected that the portal will receive the maximum number of applications quickly. Therefore, Community Assistance staff encourages applicants to gather their required documents in advance.

If you are currently receiving Emergency Rental Assistance or have previously applied for it, you do not need to reapply.

It will take several weeks for Community Assistance staff to process the applications and verify information. As the amount of committed dollars is calculated, additional applications may be accepted at a later date to ensure funding is fully utilized. The county will provide advance notice if the application window reopens.

For those needing assistance with the application, navigators will be available the morning of Jan. 12 at:

  • Daytona Beach, DeLand, Deltona, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach and Port Orange regional libraries
  • John H. Dickerson Heritage, Hope Place, DeBary and Edgewater public libraries
  • Emergency Rental Assistance office, 121 W. Rich Ave., DeLand

Landlords may apply on behalf of their tenants. They are asked to send an email to era@volusia.org with their contact information. A staff member will reach out to help them complete the application.

An eligible household is a renter household in which at least one or more individuals meet and can document these criteria:

  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to or during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Demonstrates a risk of housing instability; and
  • Has a household income at or below 80% of the area median income.

Applications will be prioritized in this order:

  1. Applicants who are unemployed for the 90 days prior to the application date and whose income is at or below 50% of the area median income
  2. Applicants whose income is at or below 50% of the area median income
  3. Applicants who are unemployed for the 90 days prior to the application date and whose income is at or below 80% of the area median income
  4. Applicants whose income is at or below 80% of the area median income

For more information, call Volusia County’s Community Assistance Division at 386-943-7095.

— Volusia County Community Information Specialist Pat Kuehn

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