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United Way and Lee County partner up to offer rent and mortgage relief

Posted at 11:26 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 23:26:54-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Help is coming for people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage - and as part of our commitment to "The Rebound Southwest Florida" we want to make sure you know how to get it.

Lee County United Way partnered with the county government to help sign people up to receive the federal government’s one-time payment of up to 2000 dollars for rent, mortgages and utilities.

United Way representative Madison Mitchell says the organization believes the in-person centers will bridge the gap, and help the relief money get directly to the people.

“We feel lucky to be able to offer these locations throughout the community to bring the services into neighborhoods that are impacted by COVID-19,” said Mitchell.

The program is open to people who can prove they have lost income due to the pandemic and make less than $55,100 dollars in a household up to four people and $72,750 dollars in a household up to eight people.

The documents applicants will need to file an application:

  • Photo ID for head of household
  • Income documentation
  • Proof of loss of income
  • Lease or most recent mortgage statement
  • Most recent utility bills (water and electric only)

Florida Gulf Coast University Economics professor, Thomas Smythe, says these government payouts are essential.

“If you were to take away the support that Congress provided, we would have been in a much worse situation,” says Symthe.

This is because rent payments largely impact the local economy.

"Folks that are landlords in particular that maybe only have one or two properties, they’re likely depending on that rent much like you and I are depending on our salary," says Smythe.

While one time payments for rent and mortgage relief are helpful in the short-term, Symthe doesn't believe they will matter much over the next few months.

This is because Smythe believes we are in an economic depression.

He says the only way to get the economy in southwest Florida moving forward, is for consumers to spend money with local businesses to help the area rebound.

“Opening businesses is good, but at some point, if we don't start to see the traffic, it will be difficult for those businesses.” says Smythe.

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