Get help with living expenses from Florida CARES grants

Links on this page are continually updated. Last update October 10, 2020.

Need assistance with your rent, mortgage, or utility bills? Now there’s federally-funded help for people affected by COVID-19. These grants don’t need to be repaid.

Many city and county governments in Florida set up locally-funded CARES programs last spring to provide grants to their residents. Most of the programs we looked at offer help with rent, mortgage payments, and utilities, but a few also cover additional expenses like cellphone, Internet, vehicle, food, and childcare. Many of those programs are now closed, or are running short of funds. But there’s a fresh infusion of money on the way!

CARES Act Individual & Family Aid Can Help

The CARES Act established a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states, counties, and cities to cover unexpected costs incurred during the period of March 1–December 30, 2020 due to COVID-19. The state of Florida received $8.328 billion from this fund, and Governor DeSantis allocated $120 million of this to local communities who in turn help their residents directly.

Source: Florida Association of Counties

It’s important to realize that CARES Act programs aren’t the only way you can get help with living expenses; many municipalities and counties also have existing housing assistance programs. There are separate local CARES Act programs for small businesses and the self-employed that may cover expenses for gig or contract workers if you have a home-based office. And, some localities offer Eviction Prevention programs. We recommend you apply sequentially for every program you can find; you may qualify for more than one as time goes by.

What’s different about CARES Act individual & family assistance grants is that:

  • They’re designed specifically to meet needs caused by COVID-19
  • Local communities have some flexibility in setting their own eligibility requirements
  • It’s time-limited; the CARES Act specifies that these grants can only pay for expenses incurred from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020
  • These programs will expire unless Congress allocates more money to the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund and/or extends deadlines for the grants to cities and counties

Who’s Eligible for COVID-19 CARES Grants

Generally, you must be a local resident individual or family, have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency, and meet income guidelines. Depending on where you live, you could qualify for $1500 to $10,000 in grant aid. You can apply for a CARES Act grant whether you’re receiving unemployment benefits or not, as long as you meet the other qualifications.

Stimulus Checks Won’t Exclude You from Eligibility

When completing your application, don’t report the value of any COVID-19 stimulus checks you received, such as the $1200/person and $500/child. These Economic Impact Payments are not countable as income or savings for federally-funded government programs for a period of 12 months after receipt.

When will CARES Act Grants be Available?

Many programs are already open and accepting applications. Several rounds of funding are distributed to localities by the state, so when initial rounds are depleted, more funds may be on the way. Here’s a list of the local government Application Start Dates. If your local program is not currently accepting applications, don’t despair and keep checking back.

Florida CARES Act Grants by City

If you live within city limits, check our list of individual cities offering assistance through CARES. If your city isn’t participating, apply through the county where you live.

Boca Raton | Bradenton | Boynton Beach | Cape Coral | Cocoa | Coral Springs |
Daytona Beach | Davie | Deerfield Beach | Deltona | Delray Beach |
Ft. Lauderdale* | Ft. Myers | Gainesville | Hialeah Mortgage or Rent & Utilities |
Hollywood | Kissimmee | Lakeland | Largo | Lauderhill |
Melbourne | Miami Mortgage or Rent | Miami Beach | Miami Gardens |
Miramar | North Miami | Ocala | Orlando | Palm Bay | Pembroke Pines |
Pensacola | Plantation* | Pompano Beach | Port St. Lucie | Punta Gorda |
Sarasota City | St. Petersburg | Sunrise | Tallahassee | Tamarac |
Tampa | Titusville* | West Palm Beach | Winter Haven | Winter Park

*Ft. Lauderdale: Call 1-800-579-4119 between 9:00AM-5:00PM
*Plantation: email MBCAdmin1@minoritybuilders.org or call 954-792-1121 ext. 23 or 26

*Titusville: call 321-567-3997 or email neighborhoodservices@titusville.com

Florida CARES Act Grants by County

Alachua | Baker | Bay | Bradford | Brevard | Broward
Calhoun | Charlotte | Citrus | Clay | Collier | Columbia
DeSoto | Dixie | Duval | Escambia | Flagler | Franklin
Gadsden | Gilchrist | Glades | Gulf | Hamilton | Hardee | Hendry
Hernando | Highlands | Hillsborough | Holmes | Indian River
Jackson | Jefferson |Lafayette | Lake | Lee | Leon | Levy | Liberty
Madison | Manatee | Marion | Martin | Miami-Dade | Monroe
Nassau | Okaloosa | Okeechobee | Orange | Osceola
Palm Beach | Pasco | Pinellas | Polk | Putnam | Santa Rosa | Sarasota
Seminole | St. Johns | St. Lucie | Sumter | Suwannee | Taylor | Union
Volusia | Wakulla | Walton | Washington

No Luck?

If you can’t find your location in our lists above, find your local State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program and contact them for more information, or call Florida Housing’s toll-free Coronavirus Relief Fund Information Line at 1-888-362-7885. You can also call 211 for information on government and nonprofit organizations that may be offering help.

Help Us Keep Our Lists Current

Know of any CARES grants we missed? Let us know in the comments below. And we’d love to hear if you got help, too!

7 thoughts on “Get help with living expenses from Florida CARES grants

  1. I am in bankruptcy 13 and I can not afford paying the court. Federal aid has expured, FALSE promises to send our way. I am in desperate need of help $1100 only covers utilities. Please help me

    Like

  2. I applied for this the 1st day that the program was supposed to start also did the fast track application was told all slots for appointments were fill. I want to know how is that when i filled out the application at 2 or 3am? Also slots were filled. North Florida Action Agency is a JOKE. Programs or for family or friends or people who repeatedly use these social services.

    Like

    1. We’ve heard that if you create a MyJax account on the Jacksonville website, there’s another way to apply. Not sure if this is true, but could you try it and let us know?

      On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 10:51 AM Unemployed Florida wrote:

      >

      Like

  3. Hi I was trying to find financial help. I am on unemployment but I am behind on everything . I cant keep up. If you can help or show me where to go go help. Thank you !
    Dallas mills

    Like

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