ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Central Florida counties are using money from the federal CARES Act to help residents and businesses who were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orange County announced the fourth round of its Orange CARES for Residents program is opening on Monday, June 22 at 8 a.m. The county said it will accept 20,000 applications during the fourth round. 

Orange County received $243.2 million from the federal CARES Act. According to the county, $72.9 million will be used for small business financial assistance and $72.9 million will be used for social services and resident needs.

The Orange CARES for Residents program allows residents to apply for a one-time direct payment of $1,000 to help pay for mortgage, rent, utilities or medical bills. 

During a news conference last week, Mayor Jerry Demings said during the first two days the portal was open they received 3,501 completed applications and about 200 of them were denied.

“That means that approximately 3200 individuals are being processed and have been notified of their status. We believe that overwhelmingly majority of them are eligible and that would be a cost to the fund of about $3.2 million,” Demings said

Demings said he hopes to process 5,000 applications by the end of this week.

Volusia County is preparing to roll out two new assistance programs using its CARES Act funding.

The County Council allocated $3 million in emergency financial support to help home-based businesses. For home businesses that meet the eligibility criteria can apply for a one-time $1,500 grant. The county said the federal funds is enough to provide 2,000 grants on a first come, first serve basis.

Volusia County is also spending $1 million from the federal fund to buy personal protective equipment for local businesses. 

Last week Brad Harris, the Volusia County Economic Development business manager, said businesses can get two free kits filled with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. He said the Volusia County Chamber Alliance is still working on the distribution plans. 

“It’s another step we’re taking to help make business safer as we relaunch and reopen in this coronavirus environment,” Harris said.

In addition to the $4 million for these two programs, the County Council previously allocated $35.5 million for rent and mortgage assistance, food aid, grants for small businesses and non-profit agencies, and help for local cities with expenses due to COVID-19.

Osceola County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer announced on Friday it is also receiving money from the federal CARES act.

The county said it’s receiving $16.3 million in the first round of funding. County officials said that is 25% of the potential $65.5 million the county could use for housing and business assistance.

“While this is a far cry from the funds received in other large counties, it is still important to have a good plan on how to utilize this critical funding,” Janer said.

The County Commission is meeting on Monday to discuss how it will use the federal dollars.

“I believe that the best place for the use of these dollars are to continue to provide rental and mortgage foreclosure prevention assistance, along with support for our small business community and additional funding to prevent food insecurity,” Janer said.

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