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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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After a vote from the Alachua County Commission, applications for the county’s COVID-19 grant will open at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The program will provide Alachua County residents who have lost income due to COVID-19 with up to $2,500, according to April Shuping, a partner of Carr, Riggs & Ingram, the accounting firm the county hired to help run the program. The funding will be dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants can apply online starting Tuesday, or in person at Community Support Services, located at the John Henry Thomas, M.D. Center, Shuping said. Applications will be available in English and Spanish.

The program is funded by the $46.9 million the county received from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Shuping said. $21.1 million of that total will fund the individual program, while $15 million will fund a similar grant program for small and medium-sized businesses.

The grant program will be able to award more than 8,400 households, Shuping said, adding that she expects more than 20,000 applications. The money will be dispersed weekly to residents through direct deposit, by mailed check or with a mailed, preloaded debit card.

The program has some restrictions on eligibility. Applicants must have had a permanent residence in the county from May 1 to the date of their application, Shuping said.

An applicant's household must have below 120 percent of the 2020 average household income in the county for a household of its size, which is calculated by taking each person in a home’s paycheck and multiplying it by the number of pay periods they receive in a year, Shuping said.

The average household income limit of a one person household is $58,680, while the average household income limit for a four-person household is $83,760, according to documents supplied to The Alligator by Alachua County Spokesperson Mark Sexton.

An applicant's photo ID, phone number, documentation of residence, such as a utility bill or rental agreement, and number of relatives in the household are requirements on the application, Shuping said. Only one person per household can receive grant money.

Applicants are also required to explain and estimate their lost income and additional expenses because of the pandemic as well as detail what bills or expenses they can’t pay or have had difficulty paying, Shuping said. Individuals with overdue bills will have a priority when the program's funding begins to dwindle.

Only U.S. citizens and legal residents will be eligible for the grant, Shuping said. The county commission didn’t discuss an alternative program for undocumented residents.

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While County Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler supported the motion to begin the application process, she said she hopes the commission explore ways to support undocumented families who have been affected by the pandemic.

“There are people who have been living here for years,” Wheeler said. “They are families with legitimate needs.”

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