Local News

Eligible homeless, near-homeless can get rent help

AVON PARK-The Highlands County Coalition for the Homeless is looking for eligible renters who are on the verge of being homeless and need help staying in their homes or those without a roof over their heads.

The coalition has $60,000 left to give out of a $99,000 Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, which must either be used by June 30 or forfeited, said the group's interim executive director Natalie Simons.

The grant will help pay the first month's rent and security deposit for someone who needs rental housing, she said. It also will help someone who owes back rent and has received an eviction notice from a landlord, she added.

The caveat is that to be eligible, applicants have to have some form of "consistent" income -- from either or a job or Social Security benefits -- and can continue paying the rent after they receive assistance.

Because of this stipulation, Simons said they have faced some challenges finding the right people.

"It's temporary help," Simons said. "We're trying to get the word out."

The grant also can help someone -- who say, pays $800 in rent and has an $800 income and cannot make timely payments and is being evicted-- to move into a cheaper rental property, she added.

The assistance is only available for rent payments, not mortgages, and those who are still in their rental homes have to receive an eviction notice for the application to be approved, she added.

There also are U.S. poverty guidelines a coalition case manager will review.

To apply, call the coalition at (863) 452-1086. Their office is at 1306 S. Tulane Ave., Avon Park, and their office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.