Less than 2 weeks after announcing the One Tampa emergency COVID-19 relief fund, the City of Tampa has begun distributing direct payments for qualifying individuals in need.
The One Tampa: Relief Now, Rise Together program was announced on April 14th, offering rent, mortgage, and essential utility assistance to individuals most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The program covers up to $1,000 for rent/mortgage payments and up to $250 for essential utility assistance for qualifying residents. The OneTampa fund was designed to provide a lifeline for many in the community who have had their lives disrupted by an unexpected loss or reduction of income and to bridge the gap as they wait for federal and state funds to arrive.
The application process opened on April 17 for the Individual/family One Tampa program. That day, the City’s One Tampa webpage received nearly 40,000 visits and more than 10,000 applications were initiated, indicating widespread need for assistance. At its peak, the hotline for program information was handling more than 6,500 calls a minute. Within a day and a half, the city received more than 2,500 completed applications to be processed.
In a quick turnaround, City staff and partners at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay have been processing applications and began issuing direct payments on behalf of applicants starting Monday, April 27th. Payments are being issued directly to mortgagors, landlords, and utility providers on behalf of qualifying residents.
“We know that many in our community are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, which is why we wanted to act as quickly as possible to offer relief,” says Mayor Jane Castor. “Launching an emergency relief program of this size was a first for our city--it was a tremendous effort on the backend and a lot of long hours spent processing applications, but I am so proud of the hard work that our team poured into this initiative to help our residents. This is what community is all about, helping each other in times of need so that we can get through this like we always do: together.”
In addition to the One Tampa: Relief Now, Rise Together fund for individuals/families, the City also launched a One Tampa program for small business owners. Those who applied during the pre-application process and were approved, were able to move on to the next step. Final applications are currently being processed and qualifying small business owners will be contacted over the coming days to confirm eligibility for relief.
To learn more about One Tampa: Relief Now, Rise Together, or to make a donation to support residents/small business owners in need, visit onetampa.org.