Unlike other states that are allowing the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to run through the end of December, Florida’s moratorium expired on October 1st. Individuals, families and small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic can now, thankfully, get emergency financial assistance through the County via the Pinellas CARES fund.
Approved by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, Pinellas CARES is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Information in this blog is provided by Pinellas CARES.
Where to get help
Eviction or Foreclosure
If you or someone you know is facing potential eviction or foreclosure due to overdue rent or mortgage payments, here is valuable information you need to know.
- To apply for financial assistance to cover overdue rent through Pinellas CARES: https://211tampabay.org/programs/covid-cares/
- To learn more about possible protections under the CDC’s Temporary Halt in Evictions: https://gulfcoastlegal.org/the-cdcs-temporary-halt-in-evictions
If you legal assistance, you can find it through one of the following organizations:
- Gulf Coast Legal Services Eviction Mitigation Project: https://gulfcoastlegal.org/gls-eviction-mitigation-project
- Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program (Community Law Program): Call (727) 582-7475
- Bay Area Legal Services: https://bals.org/get-help
Pinellas CARES – COVID-19 relief for individuals, community and businesses
Thousands of individuals and local business owners have already received emergency financial relief through the Pinellas CARES program, but even more help is now available. For detailed information, please visit: www.cares.pinellas.gov
For individuals, families and workforce
Financial assistance for overdue rent, mortgage and utility bills up to $5,000 per household for those who lost a job or significant income due to COVID-19.
For the community
Support is available for nonprofits and child care centers that provide critical services.
Emergency grants for Pinellas-based businesses most affected by the pandemic – those required to shut down or whose customers were required to shut down or stop doing business.
Unemployment and Income Assistance
If you are currently out of work, the State of Florida’s Reemployment Assistance Program may be able to provide financial assistance. For information about eligibility and the application process, read the State Department of Economic Opportunity’s Frequently Asked Questions. If you experience technical difficulties with the Reemployment Assistance online application, you can also print and fill out a paper application: (English | Spanish | Creole) Please note that paper applications could potentially take longer for the state to process than completing an online application.
Resources for Employers
- Short Time Compensation Program for Employers – helps employers retain their workforce in times of temporary slowdown by encouraging work sharing as an alternative to layoff.
- SBA Debt Relief Program – The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Food Pantry/Distribution Sites – Food distribution sites across Pinellas County are offering prepared meals, groceries, and other resources for adults and children in need.
Home Meal Delivery for Kids & Seniors
- Meals on Wheels for Kids
- Neighborly Care Network/Meals on Wheels for Seniors: Drive-thru and delivery options available for older adults 60+ with safe social distancing – Call 727-573-9444
- Apply for Food & Nutrition Assistance
- For food assistance, apply online for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or call 866-762-2237 or 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771).
Pet Care Assistance
The following organizations offer pet food pantries for pet owners who are facing financial hardship:
Pinellas County Animal Services: Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33774; Phone: (727) 582-2600; Details: An employee will meet you at the entrance or you may call from the parking lot and an employee will come out to assist. Each citizen is limited to two bags or six cans of food per visit.
Humane Society of Pinellas: Mondays & Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater, FL 33759; Phone: (727) 797-7722; Details: To pick up food, knock on the door at the Humane Society’s Volunteer Village, located at their facility, and a representative will bring the food out to you.
SPCA of Tampa Bay: Tuesdays from 1-5 p.m.; 9099 130th Avenue North, Largo, FL 33773; Phone: (727) 586-3591, ext. 121; Details: Call ahead to ensure the food pantry has adequate food stocks to meet your needs. If you are planning to pick up canned food, bring plastic grocery bags to transport the food home. When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have a valid photo ID.
Friends of Strays Safer At Home Fund (St. Petersburg residents). Friends of Strays has partnered with Operation: SNIP, SPOT: Spay & Neuter, and Pet Food Warehouse to provide veterinary care and pet supplies at no cost to St. Petersburg residents who are out of work. The program is designed to provide those who are unable to care for their pets due to loss of income with an alternative to surrendering their animal to a shelter.
The Safer At Home Fund provides vouchers for the cat and dog food, cat litter, flea and tick preventative, annual exams, spay/neuter surgery, core vaccines, and dewormer. Those in need of assistance can fill out a short online questionnaire on the Friends of Strays website.
Spectrum is offering qualified households low-income Internet assistance through its Spectrum Internet Assist program.
For the latest updates about resources for Pinellas County businesses, visit the Pinellas County Economic Development Council website or follow on LinkedIn. Florida businesses can also visit http://floridadisaster.biz for more information.
- Short Time Compensation Program for Employers: This Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) program helps employers retain their workforce in times of temporary slowdown by encouraging work sharing as an alternative to layoff.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Resources: SBA Debt Relief Program: The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan: For further information about these programs, please contact the SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.
Mental Health & Emotional Support
You can call these crisis hotlines for free and confidential support.
- 211 Tampa Bay Cares: Dial 211, Text your zip code to 898211 or visit 211tampabay.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or visit veteranscrisisline.net
- Directions for Living is hosting an Emotional Support Call Line: (727) 524-4464, ext. 1001. Line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
- SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Crisis Textline. Text TALK to 741741
Counseling for First Responders
- Directions for Living is offering no-cost 30-minute virtual counseling sessions for first responders, including healthcare workers, EMS staff, law enforcement officers, firefighters and mental health personnel. To schedule an appointment, call 727-385-3394.
- PEMHS’s Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) is providing crisis intervention services for Pinellas County residents of all ages. Their mobile team is available 24/7 on demand and consists of licensed behavioral health therapists and psychiatrists who are available to assist via telehealth or in person while practicing social distancing. A team can be dispatched to the location of the crisis with a target response time of 60 minutes from the time of the call. Call 727-362-4424 to reach the MCRT. Services include: Evaluation and assessment, development of safety or crisis plans, providing or facilitating stabilization services, supportive crisis counseling; Education: development of coping skills, linkage to appropriate resources; Tele-health services for psychiatric care as available through partnering agencies; Peer Support Services: involve a range of activities and interactions between people who share similar experiences of being diagnosed with behavioral health conditions.
Resources for Pregnant Women & New Parents
The Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas County is offering resources to help pregnant women and parents of babies younger than one year old during the COVID-19 outbreak. For questions about prenatal care, counseling, and other services, contact the Healthy Start Coalition at 727-507-4260 (Leave a voicemail with your name and number); Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources for Seniors
The following information is provided by the Area Association on Aging in Pinellas. AAAPP offices are closed to the public and staff are working remotely. All critical services will continue to be available by phone.
- AAAP Helpline and Intake/Screening/Medicaid teams remain open during normal business hours. Call 1-800-963-5337 or 727-217-8111 for out of area callers.
- Nutrition providers remain available. Home meal delivery is being completed with six feet of distance to protect the elder receiving the meal and congregate dining has transitioned into drive-through dining services. Drive through meal options are readily available for any older adult 60+. To sign up, call Neighborly (Pinellas residents) at 727-573-9444 or Pasco Senior Services (Pasco residents) at 727-834-3340.
- SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) and Senior Victim Advocacy/Elder Abuse teams are available for support and assistance via telephone only. You can reach both programs via the Helpline number above.
- Case management teams are continuing to coordinate & provide services wherever possible to individuals, but have put in place extra precautions to avoid the spread of the disease.
- Adult day care, senior center programming, and other community sites are largely suspended. Check with the direct provider or municipality for updates on site closures.
Senior Shopping Hours
- Dollar General: dedicating their first hour of operations each day to senior citizens.
- Fresh Market: inviting those most at risk in for an hour of safe shopping every weekday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- Publix: Starting March 24, those 65 and older can shop from 7 to 8 a.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday until further notice. Pharmacies will also be open.
- Target: reserving the first hour of shopping on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for elderly guests, pregnant women, and those defined by the CDC as vulnerable or at-risk.
- Walmart: The stores will invite customers 60 and older from 6 to 7 a.m. Tuesdays beginning March 24 through April 28. Pharmacies and vision centers will also be open.
- Whole Foods: serving customers who are 60 and older one hour before opening to the general public, under their new adjusted hours posted on the store’s website.
- Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Mas: The stores now welcome seniors and high-risk customers from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. Pharmacies are also open.
Transportation services for those who need it are available through Find a Ride Florida. PSTA has currently suspended all fees for riders until further notice to assist with social distancing practices.
Bottom Line: The health and economic impact of COVID-19 have set thousands of residents of Pinellas County back on their heels where nowhere to go for help. Through services provided by Pinellas CARES, there is hope.
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