Where To Get Help

Pinellas CARES

COVID-19 relief for individuals, families and small businesses

Pinellas County is launching new programs to provide emergency financial assistance to individuals, families and small businesses hardest hit by COVID-19.

The Pinellas CARES programs funded by $170 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will also strengthen local public health efforts to fight coronavirus, including additional health supplies, equipment and support for community testing.

Thousands of individuals and small business owners have already received relief through these programs, but more help is available!

Support for Individuals & Families

Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance has broadened eligibility for individuals and families who need help with overdue rent, mortgage or utility bills.

Anyone who has lost a job or significant income due to COVID-19 can now apply for a maximum of $5,000 in assistance per household during the period starting March 1, 2020.

To qualify, applicants now only need to sign an attestation form affirming their loss of income was directly related to COVID-19 and provide documentation of their residency in the county and United States.

Individuals can apply for assistance by contacting 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares: Text COVIDCARES to 898211.

Applicants who did not previously qualify for the program or who already received help, but need assistance for additional overdue bills, can apply again.  

Payments will be disbursed directly to the utility, mortgage or other eligible agency to which the individual bills are due.

Other Pinellas CARES programs

Please note: Details about the programs below and how to apply will be shared in the coming weeks as operations are established to start accepting and processing applications.

Small Business Support: More than 5,000 small businesses applied for $5,000 in assistance through the Pinellas CARES Small Business Grants through the close of the application period of June 30. That program focused on businesses with a commercial location, but new programs are in the works to help more businesses that did not qualify for the first round, such as daycare providers, home-based businesses, professional artists and other business types.

Nonprofit Services: Support for nonprofits and other organizations that have seen a spike in service needs during the pandemic, such as feeding programs, behavioral health and legal assistance to prevent evictions.

Pandemic Response: Increased local capacity for testing, contact tracing, skilled nursing, personal protective equipment (PPE), community health educators, and other public health measures.

Pinellas CARES Background

Pinellas County received $170 million from the federal CARES Act fund, which can be used for bolstering public health programs and supplies related to COVID-19 and financial assistance to individuals, businesses and local organizations impacted by the pandemic.

This spring, the County sought broad input for how to use these funds to meet the community’s greatest needs, including a virtual conversation and a survey that garnered 1,114 responses.


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.

Paper Applications

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 potentially take longer for the state to process than completing an online application.

Paper applications are also available at the locations below. For the purpose of social distancing, the papers are stocked in red boxes near the entrance of each location:

Pinellas Public Library Cooperative building
1330 Cleveland St., Clearwater, FL

Barbara S. Ponce Public Library 
7770 52nd St. N., Pinellas Park, FL 33781 

St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus Library 
9200 113th St. N., Seminole, FL 33772 

St. Pete Beach Public Library 
365 73rd Ave., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706 

Resources for Employers:


Food Pantry/Distribution Sites

Pinellas County has more than 100 food distribution sites, offering prepared meals, groceries, and other resources for adults and children in need.


School Meals

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

Many requirements to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been waived to help more people get immediate help paying for essentials – no in-person interviews are required.

Apply online or call 866-762-2237 or 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771). Agents are available for extended hours, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.


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. 
  • Grassroots Kava House and Pup Active Pet Food Pantry
    Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    957 Central Avenue
    St. Petersburg, FL 33705
    Phone: (727) 220-3041
    Details: If you’re unable to leave your home due to quarantine or being immunocompromised, you can send Grassroots Kava House a message via their Facebook page to discuss possible delivery within St. Petersburg city limits.

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
  • Dewormer

Those in need of assistance can fill out a short online questionnaire on the Friends of Strays website.


Utilities

Duke Energy announced on March 15 that the company would not disconnect customers’ service for non-payment at this time in order to give customers experiencing financial hardship extra time to make payments. Pinellas County Utilities has also suspended water service terminations through May 16.


Internet for Students & Teachers

Spectrum is offering free WiFi for 60 days for Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households that don’t currently have internet or WiFi service. All installation and pre-payment fees will be waived. View more information.


Transportation

If you are unable to afford transportation and need a ride to a food pantry, doctor appointment, grocery store, or job interview, contact 211 Tampa Bay Cares about its Ride United program. The program provides free round trip short-term rides via Lyft Ride Share. View eligibility requirements and contact information.


Business Resources

Municipal Grant Programs:

Short Time Compensation Program for Employers:

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:

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:

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 Pinellas Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT)

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.

Services include:

  • 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) 
Email: info@healthystartpinellas.org 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Healthystartofpinellascounty


Resources for Seniors

The following information is provided by the Area Association on Aging in Pinellas. AAAPP offices are closed to the public and staff are working remotely. All critical services will continue to be available by phone.

  • AAAP Helpline and Intake/Screening/Medicaid teams remain open during normal business hours. Call 1-800-963-5337 or 727-217-8111 for out of area callers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Senior Shopping Hours:

  • Dollar General: dedicating their first hour of operations each day to senior citizens.
  • Fresh Market: inviting those most at risk in for an hour of safe shopping every weekday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Publix: Starting March 24, those 65 and older can shop from 7 to 8 a.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday until further notice. Pharmacies will also be open.
  • Target: reserving the first hour of shopping on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for elderly guests, pregnant women, and those defined by the CDC as vulnerable or at-risk.
  • Walmart: The stores will invite customers 60 and older from 6 to 7 a.m. Tuesdays beginning March 24 through April 28. Pharmacies and vision centers will also be open.
  • Whole Foods: serving customers who are 60 and older one hour before opening to the general public, under their new adjusted hours posted on the store’s website.
  • Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Mas: The stores now welcome seniors and high-risk customers from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. Pharmacies are also open.

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.
  • 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.

Stay at Home Tips

We appreciate Pinellas County residents’ efforts to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we recognize that staying home all day is not always as easy as it sounds. We’ve compiled some resources to help you make the most of your time at home.

View our Stay at Home Tips toolkit!


Questions?

Call the County Information Center at (727) 464-4333
Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Online chat is available, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

For other resources, contact 211 Tampa Bay Cares by texting your zip code to 898211 or dialing 211 (available 24 hours a day).