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Posted October 15, 2020 | 6:06 PM

Hillsborough County's R3 Program Reaches Goal of Helping Residents and Businesses with $127M

Hillsborough County, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2020) - Over the past four months, Hillsborough County has worked with residents and small businesses to help minimize the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic's financial impacts on the economy. Through its Rapid Response Recovery Assistance Program (R3), the County has allocated more than $127 million in financial assistance for families and small businesses, reaching its total funding limit for two popular programs.

Hillsborough's R3 Economic Recovery Financial Assistance program helped small businesses. The County's R3 Housing and Utility Financial Assistance program helped residents pay rent, mortgages, and electric bills. Both were successful in delivering financial assistance across the County.

With all allocated funding either approved or pending approval, the application period has closed. During the next few weeks, staff will complete the processing of all remaining submitted applications for both programs. Businesses with applications in review are expected to receive a final determination of award within the next few weeks.

Businesses in every corner of the County and in a wide variety of industries took advantage of the R3 Economic Recovery Financial Assistance program to keep employees, pay bills, buy new equipment, implement public safety measures, or in some cases pivot their entire business model. When all pending applications are finalized, it's expected that more than 5,900 local businesses will have been helped at an average award of $15,000 each.

The R3 Housing and Utility Financial Assistance program more than doubled the original funding allocated because of the overwhelming need for assistance. When the final allocated dollars are distributed, this program will have helped participants pay past-due rent or mortgage and/or past-due electric bills for about 6,500 Hillsborough households that were directly impacted by the pandemic due to either job losses or reductions in salaries.

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners funded the R3 program through the CARES Act and helped thousands of residents and small businesses infuse capital back into the economy. The program took great care to ensure that residents near the poverty line and those businesses based in economically distressed communities got a fair chance at assistance.

After the initial launch of this assistance, the County recognized the need for further aid in other areas to help mitigate the pandemic's impact on our community. With the CARES Act funding, the County expanded the R3 program to provide several economic recovery initiatives to assist local nonprofits, help cultural venues with costs related to COVID-19, and work with community partners to provide food relief to residents. The County has also partnered with Metropolitan Ministries, Feeding Tampa Bay, East Tampa Business & Civic Association, the United Food Bank of Plant City, and the Community Enrichment Lab to provide much-needed food relief programs to feed and deliver meals to the community.

One unique partnership is benefitting both Hillsborough Aging Services clients and local businesses: Silver Platters. Nearly 1,000 seniors are receiving Silver Platter dinners weekly or semiweekly, delivered to their doorsteps. Three restaurants and 15 food trucks are participating in the program.

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