COVID-19 Industry Update

October 28, 2020

More than 10,000 individuals, families and businesses impacted by COVID-19 have received direct financial assistance through Pinellas CARES programs, and many may qualify for more help even if they’ve applied before.

  • Up to $5,000 per household for overdue rent, mortgage and utility bills
  • Up to $10,000 max per business for restaurants, bars, hotels and many other small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic based on a sliding scale (home-based businesses may qualify)

Individuals and businesses that have previously applied for help through CARES or other local programs may qualify for more assistance if they have not received the maximum award amounts.

Pinellas CARES also supports new programs providing legal aid for evictions and job retraining for workers impacted by COVID-19.

Businesses: Emergency grants up to $10,000 for Pinellas-based businesses most impacted by the pandemic – generally, those required to shut down or whose customers were required to shut down or stop doing business. Learn more.

Individuals & families: Financial assistance for overdue rent, mortgage & utility bills up to $5,000 per household for those who lost a job or significant income due to COVID-19. Learn more.

Eviction assistance: offered through local organizations funded by Pinellas CARES to mediate between landlords and tenants. Learn more.

Workforce training: offered through CareerSource Pinellas for workers and employers. Learn more.

Program Overviews

Eviction Assistance
Pinellas CARES funding supports the following programs providing free legal mediation to resolve evictions for people impacted by COVID-19:

  • Gulf Coast Legal Services: (800) 230-5920
  • Bay Area Legal Services: (800) 625-2257
  • Community Law Program: (727) 582-7475 (tenants/landlords)

Tenants that are overdue on rent should not wait for an eviction notice to seek help and may be eligible for financial assistance through Pinellas CARES or other programs to pay bills. More details here.

Financial Assistance for Individuals and Families
Rent, mortgage and utility assistance available up to $5,000 per household for overdue bills since March 1, 2020. To start the process, text the word COVIDCARES to 898211. Eligible applicants will be asked to send the following documents to [email protected]:

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

After these documents are submitted, applicants will be sent a form to sign attesting that they lost their job or income due to COVID-19 and have no more than $10,000 in cash, checking or savings.

Detailed information on document requirements can be found here.

Due to the widespread impact of the pandemic on the local community, this program is experiencing a high volume of requests. Payments will take several weeks to arrive from the time documents are submitted for review. 

Applicants who did not previously qualify for the program or who already received help, but need assistance for additional overdue bills, can apply again with a maximum of $5,000 per household.

Local Business Grants
Grants up to $10,000 for Pinellas-based businesses most affected by the pandemic: generally, those that were required to shut down or whose customers were required to shut down or stop doing business.

Businesses that have already applied for or received funding from previous local grant programs are still eligible for this program, and businesses that apply for this program may also apply for current or future local grants.

Qualifying business owners can use a single online application to be considered for one of the following grants:

  • Sliding Scale Grants: $2,500 to $10,000 grants for businesses making between $17,000 and $3 million in gross annual revenue.
  • Health & Safety Matching Grants: up to $10,000 to assist Target Industry businesses in implementing COVID-19-related upgrades and safety precautions.
  • Business Diversity and Arts Microgrants: help impacted business owners with barriers to participation in other grant programs strengthen their business through direct financial assistance and professional services, including help with post-COVID business planning, record-keeping and preparing documents needed to apply for other types of grant funding.  

A detailed list of all program qualifications and a link to the online application can be found here.

CARES Funds can only be used to reimburse losses caused by COVID-19 that are not paid by insurance or by another federal grant or program. These costs may include employee wages, vendors, rent or other business expenses.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to take their time to submit a full application, including all required documentation, for the quickest response.

Workforce Training
$2 million in Pinellas CARES funding is supporting new training programs for local workers who lost their job due to COVID-19 through a new CareerSource Pinellas program.

The new PinellasWorks programs provide on-the-job training opportunities, direct job placement, short-term occupational skills training certifications and other services. The program also offers qualifying businesses 100 percent reimbursement for costs of training new employees. Visit here for more information.

Pinellas CARES Background
Pinellas CARES also supports several other countywide initiatives, including: grants for nonprofits and licensed child care providers, bolstering local pandemic response through increasing local capacity for testing, contact tracing, skilled nursing, personal protective equipment (PPE), community health educators, other public health measures, and workforce reemployment programs.

Information on all programs can be found here.

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