County program to help ease financial burdens

OKCOLogoHOLT, Fla., April 15, 2020—The Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners adopted a proposal today to help landlords and tenants get through the economic downturn due to COVID-19.

Pending state approval, Okaloosa County will make funding available through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program designed to help with rental and downpayment assistance as well as needed renovations.

According to Okaloosa County Commissioner Nathan Boyles, the county has about $500,000 to be used under those circumstances.

“We’re going to retool some of those dollars and make them available to folks who have lost a job or are otherwise suffering economically and need help paying their rent or need help paying their utilities for the next 60 days,” he said during a Facebook video recap of today’s meeting.

By capping the assistance to 75 percent of the rent or utility bill, “we could help spread this to 25 percent more folks who we can help at the end of the day,” Boyles said.

With a 30-day state stay-at-home order except for essential services, many workers now find themselves without an income.

A federal- and national-level moratorium on foreclosures and evictions means people cannot be evicted through at least mid May.

However, tenants who can’t pay their rent put a financial burden on their landlords, who, in turn, may depend on rent checks to pay their monthly mortgages.

“These folks typically have mortgages that they have to pay,” said Boyles. “If the rent doesn’t come in, then the mortgage doesn’t get paid.”

Once it gets approval from the state, information about the county program will be available on the website under the “small business economic recovery information” link.

“I’m hoping that program will be a big win and it’ll be helping folks up and down the chain,” Boyles said.

UPDATE: Link to the SHIP program:

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