Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Pinellas CARES funds?

Pinellas CARES offers emergency relief to individuals and families facing serious financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of these funds is to provide temporary financial relief to those most impacted by the pandemic and resulting business closures.

Who can apply?

Individuals and families who have lost jobs, been furloughed or have experienced a reduction of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need financial assistance paying past-due rent, mortgage payment and utilities.   

What can the funds be used for?

Funds can be used for essential household expenses, such as rent, mortgage and utility bills, so long as these expenses have not already been paid for by insurance or another federal assistance program.

How much assistance can I receive?

Individuals will be awarded assistance based on their specific documented needs, such as utility bills or overdue rent that have accumulated due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be required to provide documentation of these needs as described below.   

How do I know if I qualify?

  • Job or income loss directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e. your workplace shut down under state or local orders): You will be required to provide documentation. Examples: pay stubs, a letter from employer, proof of employer business closure. 
  • Income restrictions apply: For example, income for a 1-person household cannot exceed $2,127 (or $4,367 for a 4-person household) during the month in which the assistance is applied for, with no more than $4,000 in liquid assets (cash, savings and checking).
  • Pinellas County residency: Proof of Pinellas County residency is required to be considered for financial assistance. Proof may include driver’s license or utility bill with current address.  
  • Legal Status: proof of U.S. Citizenship, including naturalized citizens, or other legal residency status (i.e. permanent residents).

How do I apply?

Applicants must send the following documents to no later than 11:59 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, for consideration:

  • Picture or scan of the unpaid bill
  • Picture or scan of documents verifying U.S. and Pinellas County residency

Applications will be processed from 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

How quickly will I receive financial assistance?

Assistance requests will be processed as quickly as possible. Due to the widespread of impact of the pandemic on our local community, we anticipate a high volume of requests. Payments will be disbursed directly to the landlord, mortgage lender or utility company to which the individual bills are overdue  

Who can I contact if I have problems applying or have a question?

Staff from Pinellas County and 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares are happy to assist you. Text COVIDCARES to 898211, or you can call 211 for more help. Please do not call to check on the status of your request as this will slow down our process of approving and distributing assistance. 

Will receiving this assistance disqualify me from other types of state or federal aid (i.e. unemployment)?

No, but you cannot use Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance to pay for expenses that have already been paid for by other federal aid.

What is the source of the funding?

The funds come from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress designated a portion of funds to go to local governments to meet urgent financial needs within communities.

I don’t think I meet the income qualifications, but I’m still struggling to pay my rent and utilities. Where can I go?

You can check on other assistance that may be available by calling 211.