Okaloosa County providing rent, utility assistance to households impacted by COVID

Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

SHALIMAR — The U.S. Treasury has awarded Okaloosa County $6.36 million in emergency rental and utility assistance for low-income households experiencing COVID-19 financial hardships.

To ensure a successful economic recovery in the area, grant assistance became available Tuesday to assist people with rent, rent arrears, late fees, utilities and utility arrears, according to a county news release.

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The program is available to renters in Okaloosa County with a household income of 80% or below of the Area Median Family Income (AMI) adjusted for household size.

The 80% income limits based on persons in a family are as follows:

  • 1 person - $43,650
  • 2 persons - $49,850
  • 3 persons - $56,100
  • 4 persons - $62,300
  • 5 persons - $67,300
  • 6 persons - $72,300
  • 7 persons - $77,300
  • 8 persons - $82,250

The monthly relief amount per qualifying applicant is determined by the rent payment agreed to in the applicant's lease, according to a grant program frequently asked questions sheet. 

The U.S. Treasury has given Okaloosa County money for rental assistance.

Applicants may apply for back rent owed back to March 13, 2020, as well as up to three months of upcoming rent at one time. "For example, you can apply in April 2021 and the application could cover April, May, and June 2021 rent AND any back rent you owe," the FAQ sheet said. "This program can cover up to a maximum of 15 months of your rent."

Funding is available for past-due rental and utility assistance from April 2020 to the present.

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An application for rental and utility assistance may be submitted online at OkaloosaRentalAid.com by an eligible tenant or landlord on behalf of the eligible tenant.

“Our community has faced and overcome many challenges in the past year,” said Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Carolyn Ketchel. “While our local economy is strong, we recognize that this grant will fill an unmet need for those who are still struggling.”

Visit OkaloosaRentalAid.com to learn more about eligibility, required documents, application assistance and to apply online. Residents with limited or no access to a computer/technology may contact Okaloosa County’s contracted grant assistance provider, Integrity Group, at 850-460-3316 for assistance with application submittal. 

Funds will be distributed to landlords and utility providers.

Applicants are urged to apply soon, as awards are made on a first qualified, first assisted basis. Applications are open until Dec. 31, 2021, or until funds are exhausted. For additional information, please call 850-460-3316 or email Help@OkaloosaRentalAid.com.