Mayor and Commissioner

A new City of Miami rental assistance program was announced at a press conference on Tuesday, led by Mayor Francis Suarez along with city commissioners Jeffrey Watson, Ken Russell, Joe Carollo, and Manolo Reyes.

The Miami City Commission agreed to allocate $14 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding for the program with $12.7 million going directly toward utility and rental payments while $1.1 million will cover administrative costs. 

Legal Services of Greater Miami, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida, and Sunshine For All – three nonprofits already working to address the eviction crisis in the community – will each receive $100,000 to support their ongoing efforts. 

The program was made possible after the U.S. Department of the Treasury granted $25 billion to cities for emergency rental assistance under a COVID-19 stimulus bill awarded last month.

Eligible households must demonstrate risks for homelessness or financial hardships brought on by COVID-19, qualify for unemployment, and have a household income at or below 80% of the median income listed on the city’s website – Priority will be given to people who have been unemployed for at least 90 days or more and those with an income at or below the 50% mark for median income. 

Payments of up to $24,000 will be paid directly to landlords or utility companies on behalf of qualifying tenants. The payments should cover 12 months of rent and utilities, and may include up to three months of prospective rent. 

City commissioners are discussing whether to service roughly 560 residents with the maximum amount of funding available to each individual or splitting the funding in half, instead awarding each approved household $12,000 to reach more residents. 

“[This] is very important for the whole city but equally important for District 5 because you probably have a higher percentage of people getting eviction notices,” said Watson. 

The program is scheduled to begin soon but applications, a website nor a helpline are available yet. The City plans to provide updates regarding the program in the coming days. More details will be published in The Miami Times as they become available.