POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Polk County is providing much needed financial help for people behind on their rent or mortgage payments.

Applications are available starting Tuesday on Polk County’s website and will be accepted through 5 p.m. Dec. 31.

Within hours, the county had already received more than 1,500 applications.

“We know that there’s a great need out there, and the need in regards to the funding won’t match. So we did not want to have it open for too long to give false hope, so that’s why it’s just open for the three days,” said Tamara West, the Housing and Neighborhood Development Manager with Polk County.

West estimates the county will be able to help more than 700 people.

“The maximum award that they can receive is up to $5,000 over six months of delinquent rent or mortgage. We’re averaging that each household will be about $3,500, so that’s why we’re estimating about 725 clients we believe we can serve,” said West.

The county is using $2.5 million in leftover Cares Act funding to help residents behind on rent or mortgage payments.

“Hopefully that will fill that gap, that people won’t have to be evicted or foreclosure processes don’t have to start on their homes,” said West.

To qualify, people must be a resident of Polk County. They must also meet income requirements, and be impacted by the pandemic, through job loss, loss of hours, or if you have gotten sick with the coronavirus.

Documents needed to apply for assistance include:

• Florida Driver License for applicant and coapplicant
• Provide proof of loss due to COVID-19
• Current lease or mortgage statement in applicant’s/co-applicant’s name
• Current utility bill (water or electric)
• Current bank statement
• Most recent paystub or unemployment letter
• W-9 form from your landlord, property manager or mortgage company

The new money is only available to residents of Polk County who live outside Lakeland city limits.

Assistance will be given out on a first come, first served basis.

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