Advice For Florida Renters & Homeowners (Updated 11/22/2023)
Read below for advice that every Florida renter and homeowner should know during COVID19 and beyond. This guide has been updated on November 22, 2023.
HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE FUND PROGRAM
- The Florida Homeowner Assistance Fund: The Florida Homeowner Assistance Fund was a federally funded program that offered relief to eligible Floridians for mortgage payments and other homeowner expenses.
- This fund is no longer accepting new ones.
- However, housing counseling is available to Florida homeowners through Florida’s HAF program.
- Housing counseling services are provided by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-certified counselors who will assist homeowners in working with their mortgage servicers to prevent foreclosures and remain in their homes. Counselors will also host individual and group educational workshops on topics including financial literacy and the importance of good credit.
- Learn more HERE.
HOMETOWN HEROES PROGRAM:
- This is program provides some professions with support in purchasing a home. Learn more here.
WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:
- The Weatherization Assistance Program provides grants to community action agencies, local governments, Indian tribes and non-profit agencies to fund energy saving repairs to low-income homes in all counties. Learn more here.
- Many local communities also have housing authorities that provide support to those struggling with housing.
- Here is information for the Orlando Housing Authority and Winter Park Housing Authority.
- Search to see if you have a local authority in your area.
MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME:
- The My Safe Florida Home Program was re-enacted by the Florida Legislature. The program consists of two primary components as noted below. Learn more here.
- Wind Mitigation Home Inspections (DFS anticipates between 140,000 and 145,000 initial home inspections.) All owners of site-built, single-family, residential homes are eligible to make application for a wind mitigation home inspection. This inspection will identify those elements of your home’s construction which could be improved to mitigate your home against future wind damages. All inspections will be provided to eligible homeowners free of charge by the State. Applications will be reviewed and approved in the order in which they are received until current funding is exhausted.
- Wind Mitigation Grant awards for home construction (DFS anticipates awarding between 11,000 and 12,000 grants based on current funding.)
You can potentially lower your home insurance premiums by participating in the program.
Also, here is a list of must haves for optional quotes when looking for new property insurance options.
- A current 4 point inspection. This will look at the roof, AC, plumbing and electric. Any one of these may disqualify the application if the age and condition do not qualify.
- Wind mitigation. This inspection will provide additional premium discounts if the framing is up to code.
- Roof age certification. Many carriers will allow older roofs, provided the inspection shows at least 5 years of useful life remaining.
- Florida’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides federal grants to local governments and non-profit agencies to assist eligible low-income Florida households in meeting the costs of home heating and cooling. The majority of the funds are used for utility payment assistance. Learn more here. Always contact your utility company directly if you are behind in payments to see what support can be provided.
- As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, President Biden and Vice President Harris worked with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to create the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills. ACP-eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.
- Click here to learn more.
CDC EVICTION MORATORIUM NO LONGER IN PLACE TODAY.
- On August 26, 2021 the Supreme Court of the United States blocked the Biden administration’s Covid-related eviction moratorium.
- So now, there is no moratorium in place. Learn your rights when faced with an eviction here: http://communityjusticeproject.com/eviction
- Florida has also pre-empted local ordinances when it comes to improving renters rights. The options for renters are incredibly limited and there are no restrictions with how high a landlord can increase someone’s rent.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS:
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a tool (www.consumerfinance.gov/renthelp) that allows landlords and renters to find rental assistance programs in their area.
- Orange County Rental Assistance: Orange County’s application for phase two of rental assistance is now open. Learn more and apply here: ocfl.net/RentalAssistance NOTE: You must live in Orange County and outside the City of Orlando to qualify
- City of Orlando: Their rental assistance program is here but is no longer accepting new applicants.
- State of Florida, OUR FLORIDA: Click here to learn more — THIS FEDERALLY FUNDED PROGRAM IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS.
- Please contact your local County Commissioner and/or City Commissioner to see what rental assistance programs may be available AND/OR visit www.consumerfinance.gov/renthelp
SUPPORT FOR VETERANS IN FLORIDA
- In Florida, millions of dollars have been invested through VA Supportive Services for Veteran Families grants, as well as HUD VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers that provide long-term rental assistance to help homeless veterans with high needs obtain and sustain permanent housing.
- Learn more here about services for veterans experiencing housing insecurity.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FACE AN EVICTION OR FORECLOSURE?:
- If you know you are falling behind in monthly payments, consider contacting your landlord or bank/mortgage lender in advance to see if a payment plan can be crafted.
- See a step-by-step guide from Community Action Project here: http://communityjusticeproject.com/eviction
- Contact a local Legal Aid organization. It’s important to have legal representation when you are facing an eviction or foreclosure. More legal aid options are listed below, too.
- Also for those in Orange County: The Orange County Board of County Commissioners opened its Office of Tenant Services to help residents understand their rights and have access to assistance with these challenges. Learn more here.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS:
It is SO important that you know your rights as a tenant. Despite no state or federal moratorium, there are still some federal protections for renters (and homeowners).
COMMUNICATE TO YOUR LANDLORD:
Always express to your landlord the efforts you are making to pay rent. Explain to them the broken unemployment system, and the delay in receiving rental assistance. Ask if they sought forbearance from their mortgage, and/or see if a payment plan can be crafted. Also confirm if the mortgage is federally-backed, or if the apartment was constructed via low-income housing tax credits. Sometimes that can offer additional protections.
SEEK LEGAL SUPPORT:
If you are facing an eviction or foreclosure, please seek leal support. Below are pro-bono options.
You can also call Florida Bar lawyer referral at (800) 342- 8011 or locally to the Orange County Bar association lawyer referral at (407) 422–4551 for lease issues.
HOMELESS AND/OR PRECARIOUSLY HOUSED
Many Central Floridians live in hotels or find themselves homeless. Here are a list of resources to consider if you and/or your family are in this situation.
- Call 211 for an assessment to be conducted, more here: https://www.211.org/
- Central Florida Commission on Homelessness: https://www.cfch.org/
- Visit a Community CES HUB or Access Site to speak with someone about eligibility for housing programs.
- Locations Here: https://www.cfch.org/get-help/
- Homeless Services Network: https://www.hsncfl.org/
- Coalition For The Homeless: https://www.centralfloridahomeless.org/
- Salvation Army: https://salvationarmyflorida.org/orlando/
- HOPE Team: https://hcch.org/homeless%20outreach.htm
- Pathways To Home: https://www.pathwaystohome.org/apply-for-help/
Precariously Housed (Living in Hotel or Motel)
- Hope Partnership: https://www.thehopepartnership.org/
- Community Resource Network:https://www.communityresourcenetwork.com/
- Family Promise of Greater Orlando: https://familypromiseorlando.org/what-we-do/
- Matthew’s Hope: https://www.matthewshopeministries.org/home
If you are a Floridian who lives in one of our motels or hotels facing eviction, please visit this link to know your rights and seek pro-bono legal support.