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Rental Reimbursements: Many Lack Needed Computer Skills

To help residents apply for federal past-due rent money, Seminole County opened a computer lab. It offers needed tech equipment and helps with applications.

SANFORD, Fla. – The federal government’s COVID-19-relief funding can help renters pay past-due bills, but the application process requires some specialized computer equipment, such as scanners, that lower-income residents don’t have.

In some cases, landlords are helping their tenants complete applications, but Seminole County just introduced a direct solution: On Monday, County Chairman Lee Constantine cut the ribbon on a new computer lab located in Sanford. The lab acknowledges a “digital divide” among county residents and gives locals at the lower-end of the divide a place to get the advice and computer technology they need to apply for aid.

The lab has five stations to help with the technology part, and staff who can help visitors fill out applications if they have questions or get confused. The center takes walk-ins, though it depends on space availability.

Cora Yon, program manager for the Seminole’s community services department, says some people don’t have scanners at home, many don’t have computers, and some have little experience navigating websites. Lab staff can also help visitors if English is their second language.

“We can help walk them through the application itself,” Yon told the Orlando Sentinel. “A lot of it is just people who don’t know how to get the documents in the system. They have a computer but not a scanner.”

Residents outside Seminole County many still face computer challenges, but they can also apply for aid online. Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) accepts applications from tenants and landlords (tenants must sign), as well as utility providers, for past-due payments on a website created specifically for distribution of $850 million in federal recovery funds.

DCF says the website – OURFlorida.com (Opportunity for Utilities and Rental Assistance) – was designed as a central hub for information, and it includes frequently asked questions (FAQs), auxiliary help and tools.

For an overview of the program, visit Florida Realtors website: Now Available: Landlord Applications for $850M in Rent Relief

Source: Caroline Glenn, Orlando Sentinel, July 12, 2021

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

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