Lee CARES Emergency​ Rental Assistance Program to reopen for eligible residents

Published: Updated:
A Lee County home. Credit: WINK News

Relief is on the way for you if you’re worried you won’t be able to pay your rent or utility fees: Lee County commissioners are looking to get renters more money through the Lee CARES Emergency​ Rental Assistance Program.

Through January, Lee County distributed more than $60 million in aid during the pandemic. The county has received over $23 million to help renters through this program, which will be used to pay their bills.

LINK: Lee CARES information

The application portal will open for applications at 8 a.m. on March 1.

Victoria Garrett of Fort Myers was one week away from celebrating a year at her dream job.

“I was pregnant. I had just had a baby, I was working from home anyway due to COVID and then they dropped my hours down to 20…. then I went back in the office, he was like hey, we just don’t have enough work right now. We have to eliminate your position.”

Her job was the only way the single mom could keep the lights on and a roof over her baby boy’s head. The pandemic ripped that away.

“I completely panicked, I was in tears. At this point, I was like, ‘OK, God, so something better is going to happen.”

Thousands of families prayed that same prayer as doors closed, tips stopped and paychecks disappeared.

One thing that the pandemic didn’t stamp out: a helping hand for families in need.

Lee County will pay up to six months of past due rent and utilities and three months of prospective payments for qualified households, plus ongoing payment of future rent as permitted. However, rental assistance cannot exceed a total of 12 months for each qualified household. The total months include past due, current due, and prospective payments.

If a household requires additional assistance after the arrears and three months’ prospective payments are made, they must recertify by providing updated documentation. The county intends to pay landlords directly.

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