Pinellas County Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Are you behind on rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Financial help is now available through Pinellas County’s new Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
You may qualify if:
- You’ve lost your job or significant income due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
- You’re behind on rent payments or at risk of missing a rent payment, and
- You have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI). To check your household’s AMI eligibility, visit: www.bit.ly/rental-ami
Please note that new area median income limits are in place as of April 1, 2021. These are updated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Here’s how to apply:
Step 1: Contact your landlord or property management company and let them know you are seeking help due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for Pinellas County to process rent payments, landlords will need to complete a brief landlord application, which will allow them to securely upload their W-9 information for payment processing.
Step 2: Check whether your household is eligible for assistance (see above and read the FAQ page).
Step 3: Gather your documents for the application (details on the FAQ page here).
Questions? View the FAQ page for more information.
For additional questions, you can also call 855-379-3515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Call center hours are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Get program updates: Sign up for text message updates about the program, such as deadlines and changes to program procedures, by texting pinellasrent to 888777.
Note: These text alerts do not include updates about the status of specific applications.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a part of the federal stimulus package passed in late December, makes available $25 billion to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg received federal funding to implement an Emergency Rental Assistance Program to support renter populations earning 80% of the area median income (AMI) or less, with households earning less than 50% of the AMI given priority. Pinellas County received $21.4 million in federal funding for the program, and the City of St. Petersburg — the only other Pinellas County jurisdiction eligible for a direct payment — received about $8 million for St. Petersburg residents. Check your household’s AMI eligibility here.
Since early January, community partners and experts have been engaged to help assess community needs and capacity and inform development of the Pinellas County Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Temporary halt for residential evictions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a nationwide order that temporarily prevents residential evictions for nonpayment of rent between Sept. 4, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
Under the CDC’s order, tenants must provide a copy of the Eviction Protection Declaration to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have the tenant evicted or removed from their home. Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete this declaration.
Unless the CDC order is extended, changed, or ended, the order prevents tenants from being evicted or removed from their homes through June 30, 2021.
Tenants are still required to pay rent and follow all the other terms of their lease and rules of the place where they live. Tenants may also still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment. This declaration is sworn testimony, meaning that tenants can be prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine if they lie, mislead, or omit important information.
Local eviction assistance
Help is available through Pinellas CARES to resolve eviction through legal mediation. If you are overdue on your rent, don’t wait until you get an eviction notice to seek help.
- Tenants – Free legal assistance is available to resolve evictions:
- Gulf Coast Legal Services Housing Stability Assistance
- Community Law Program (Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program): Call (727) 582-7475 (Landlords/Tenants)
- Bay Area Legal Services: 800-625-2257
Facing eviction? Know your rights – Read Gulfcoast Legal Services’ Tenant Rights guide.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
How to Apply
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number
Applications begin on April 12, 2021
844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time
Call this dedicated toll-free phone number to get a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application completed with help from FEMA’s representatives. Multilingual services will be available.
Get answers to frequently asked questions about the application process on our Funeral Assistance FAQ page.
Learn more and find out if you’re eligible at FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance website.
Unemployment & Income Assistance
If you are currently out of work, the State of Florida’s Reemployment Assistance Program may be able to provide financial assistance. For information about eligibility and the application process, read the State Department of Economic Opportunity’s Frequently Asked Questions.
If you experience technical difficulties with the Reemployment Assistance online application, you can also print and fill out a paper application: ( English | Spanish | Creole ) Please note that paper applications could take longer for the state to process than completing an online application.
Resources for Employers:
- Short Time Compensation Program for Employers: helps employers retain their workforce in times of temporary slowdown by encouraging work sharing as an alternative to layoff.
- SBA Debt Relief Program: The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance
COVID-19 relief for individuals, community & businesses
After helping more than 11,000 individuals, families and businesses through direct financial assistance, Pinellas CARES individual and business assistance programs stopped accepting new applications on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.
View CARES and other COVID-19 expenditures in our COVID-19 Spending Report
Food Pantry/Distribution Sites
Food distribution sites across Pinellas County are offering prepared meals, groceries, and other resources for adults and children in need. Visit Feeding Tampa Bay’s Online Map of Local Food Pantries to find a site near you.
To find the closest schools that are offering meals to students during school closures, visit Summer BreakSpot.
Home Meal Delivery for Kids & Seniors
- Meals on Wheels for Kids
- Neighborly Care Network/Meals on Wheels for Seniors: Drive-thru and delivery options available for older adults 60+ with safe social distancing – Call 727-573-9444
Apply for Food & Nutrition Assistance
For food assistance, apply online for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or call 866-762-2237 or 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771).
Pet Care Assistance
Pet Food Pantries
The following organizations offer pet food pantries for pet owners who are facing financial hardship:
- Pinellas County Animal Services
Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
12450 Ulmerton Rd.
Largo, FL 33774
Phone: (727) 582-2600
Details: An employee will meet you at the entrance or you may call from the parking lot and an employee will come out to assist. Each citizen is limited to two bags or six cans of food per visit.
- Humane Society of Pinellas
Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
3040 State Road 590
Clearwater, FL 33759
Phone: (727) 797-7722
Details: To pick up food, knock on the door at the Humane Society’s Volunteer Village, located at their facility, and a representative will assist you and bring the food out to you.
- SPCA of Tampa Bay
Tuesdays from 1-5 p.m.
9099 130th Avenue North
Largo, FL 33773
Phone: (727) 586-3591, ext. 121
Details: Call ahead to ensure the food pantry has adequate food stocks to meet your needs. If you are planning to pick up canned food, bring plastic grocery bags to transport the food home. When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have a valid photo ID.
Friends of Strays Safer At Home Fund (St. Petersburg residents)
Friends of Strays has partnered with Operation: SNIP, SPOT: Spay & Neuter, and Pet Food Warehouse to provide veterinary care and pet supplies at no cost to St. Petersburg residents who are out of work. The program is designed to provide those who are unable to care for their pets due to loss of income with an alternative to surrendering their animal to a shelter.
The Safer At Home Fund provides vouchers for the following goods and services:
- Cat and dog food
- Cat litter
- Flea & tick preventative
- Annual exams
- Spay/neuter surgery
- Core vaccines
Those in need of assistance can fill out a short online questionnaire on the Friends of Strays website.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband internet service for eligible households. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Frequently asked questions and program updates can be found on the FCC’s website.
Who is eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Spectrum Internet Assist Program
Spectrum is offering qualified households low-income Internet assistance through its Spectrum Internet Assist program.
This Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) program helps employers retain their workforce in times of temporary slowdown by encouraging work sharing as an alternative to layoff.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Resources:
- SBA Debt Relief Program: The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan
- For further information about these programs, please contact the SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.
For the latest updates about resources for Pinellas County businesses, visit the Pinellas County Economic Development Council website or follow on LinkedIn. Florida businesses can also visit http://floridadisaster.biz for more information.
Mental Health & Emotional Support
The following crisis hotlines provide free, confidential support:
- 211 Tampa Bay Cares: Dial 211, Text your zip code to 898211 or visit 211tampabay.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or visit veteranscrisisline.net
- Directions for Living is hosting an Emotional Support Call Line: (727) 524-4464, ext 1001. Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
- SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Crisis Textline. Text TALK to 741741
Counseling for First Responders
Directions for Living is offering no-cost 30-minute virtual counseling sessions for first responders, including healthcare workers, EMS staff, law enforcement officers, firefighters and mental health personnel. To schedule an appointment, call 727-385-3394.
PEMHS’s Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) is providing crisis intervention services for Pinellas County residents of all ages. Their mobile team is available 24/7 on demand and consists of licensed behavioral health therapists and psychiatrists who are available to assist via telehealth or in person while practicing social distancing. A team can be dispatched to the location of the crisis with a target response time of 60 minutes from the time of the call. Call 727-362-4424 to reach the MCRT.
- Evaluation and assessment
- Development of safety or crisis plans
- Providing or facilitating stabilization services
- Supportive Crisis Counseling
- Education: development of coping skills
- Linkage to appropriate resources
- Tele-health services for psychiatric care as available through partnering agencies
- Peer Support Services: involve a range of activities and interactions between people who share similar experiences of being diagnosed with behavioral health conditions.
Resources for Pregnant Women & New Parents
The Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas County is offering resources to help pregnant women and parents of babies younger than one year old during the COVID-19 outbreak. For questions about prenatal care, counseling, and other services, contact the Healthy Start Coalition using the contact information below:
Phone: 727-507-4260 (Leave a voicemail with your name and number)
Resources for Seniors
AAAPP Operational Updates
The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas lobby is open 9am – 4:30pm daily for all deliveries, including mail, packages, overnight deliveries and all submissions related to the OAA RFP process. The office remains closed to the general public. All critical services will continue to be available by phone.
- Our Helpline and Intake/Screening/Medicaid teams remain open during normal business hours. You can reach us at 1-800-963-5337 or 727-217-8111 for out of area callers.
- Our nutrition providers remain available. Home meal delivery is being completed with six feet of distance to protect the elder receiving the meal and congregate dining has transitioned into drive-through dining services. Drive through meal options are readily available for any older adult 60+. To sign up, call Neighborly (Pinellas residents) at 727-573-9444 or Pasco Senior Services (Pasco residents) at 727-834-3340.
- Our SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) and Senior Victim Advocacy/Elder Abuse teams are available for support and assistance via telephone only. You can reach both programs via the Helpline number above.
- Our case management teams are continuing to coordinate & provide services wherever possible to individuals, but have put in place extra precautions to avoid the spread of the disease.
- Adult day care, senior center programming, and other community sites are largely suspended. Check with the direct provider or municipality for updates on site closures. Update: Claude Pepper and Crescent ADCs in Pasco County have reopened with very limited (<10 individuals, staff and clients included) capacity.
- IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR COVID-19 INFO OR RESOURCES: Our Helpline team continues to update this spreadsheet with available resources as they are sent to us. We encourage community members to review and use this listing as a referral source. As capacity at local organizations is constantly changing due to the virus, we cannot verify all of these resources are readily available. However, this listing is a great place to start in your search.
Community Operations and Updates
- Department of Children and Families storefronts, Social Security offices, and many municipal offices are closed or suspended at this time. Many are still offering information and support via telephone – check with the specific provider for details. DCF Economic Self Sufficiency Program Information available in English – Spanish – Haitian Creole.
- The Alzheimer’s Association’s Brain Bus has gone virtual. Flyer with full information available here.
- Transportation services for those who need it are available through Find a Ride Florida.
- PSTA has currently suspended all fees for riders until further notice to assist with social distancing practices. Route updates can be found on the PSTA website.
Need further assistance with local community resources?
Contact 211 Tampa Bay Cares by texting your zip code to 898211 or dialing 211 (available 24 hours a day).