Application period open for Emergency Rental Assistance Program in Sarasota County

Ambassadors stationed at various county locations to assist individuals with the process, and call center open Monday through Friday

This information is available on the program webpages on the U.S. Department of the Treasury website. Image courtesy U.S. Department of the Treasury

On May 5, applications for the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program that Sarasota County will administer “went live,” county staff reported.

The $13 million will be available for Sarasota County residents who suffered financial ramifications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance paying rent and utilities bills, a county news release explains.

Individuals can fill out the Emergency Rental Assistance Program applications online, through the Sarasota County Government website.

Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of aid, plus an additional three months of help, if needed, to ensure housing stability, as long as funds are available, the release points out.

Those applying for assistance should have the necessary documentation ready. The list of documents needed for the application process may be found here.

The county webpages dedicated to the program explain that after a person has submitted an application, “[I]t will be placed in a review queue.” Priority will go to households with income at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or households with someone who has been unemployed for 90 days or longer prior to the submission of the application, the website explains.

“At this stage,” the webpage adds, “a staff member will begin reviewing your application for completeness.”

This is part of the documentation needed to apply for assistance through the program. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The county is using the same application portal that it implemented in January for COVID-19 vaccinations: Neighborly. Thus, the webpage adds, a person will receive an email notification from the Neighborly portal if additional information is required to complete review of the individual’s application. “Timeliness in providing any needed information is essential to obtaining assistance,” the webpage stresses. “You must respond quickly. Requests for additional information will be sent to the email address used to set up your Neighborly account.

NOTE: Much of the correspondence for this program is via EMAIL, so please check your Spam/Junk email folder if you have not received any emails from Neighborly Software,” the webpage emphasizes.

“Sarasota County staff will then contact your landlord for verification of months past due, amount due, invoicing and payment information, and a W-9,” the webpage notes. “The landlord must agree to participate in the program and provide the required documentation in a timely manner for the payment to be processed. Your landlord will do this by setting up [his or her] own Neighborly account and submitting the landlord application and uploading required documents. You may be requested to help collect this information for your assistance to be provided in a timely manner.”

The webpage also points out that Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds will be paid directly to landlords.

Help in navigating the process

This is the Laurel Community Center in Nokomis. Image from the center’s website

Additionally, as it did with the COVID-19 vaccinations, the county is stationing “ambassadors” throughout the county to help individuals sign up for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The ambassadors may be found at the following locations:

  • Betty J. Johnson Library, located at 2801 Newtown Blvd. in Sarasota — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday;10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Fruitville Library, located at 100 Apex Road in Sarasota — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Englewood CRA, located at 370 W. Dearborn, Suite D, in Englewood — by appointment only, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Laurel Community Center, located at 509 Collins Road in Nokomis —by appointment only; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.
  • North Port Social Services, located at 6919 Outreach Way in North Port — by appointment only; 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Goodwill, located at 1781 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Information on locations and hours also may be found at scgov.net/rent.

Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown sent out an alert this week, too, to inform city residents about the program. He noted the two ambassador locations within the city’s jurisdiction — the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Library and the Goodwill facility.

Further, an Emergency Rental Assistance Program call center is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Additional information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and eligibility may be found at www.scgov.net/rent, as well.

Persons also may call the county Contact Center for help: 941-861-5000.

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