Funding for Past-Due Bills Now Available for Residents in Need
Hillsborough County has secured $256 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. An immediate $15 million was allocated to the Social Services department to bolster their efforts and programs to serve all Hillsborough residents impacted by the devastating effects of COVID-19. The $15 million is the first to come through the Rapid Response Recovery (R3) Program Hillsborough County has put in place to assist its residents.See FAQs
Hillsborough County typically invests about $8 million annually in direct client services that includes the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program (EHEAP), Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and Rental/Mortgage Assistance programs. These programs have been in place for Hillsborough County residents, regardless of jurisdiction, before COVID-19 and will remain in place.
The R3 Program assistance, through Social Services, will be used for those who have been directly affected by COVID-19 but wouldn't have qualified for Social Services assistance prior to the pandemic. The funding will be used to pay past-due utility, lease, and mortgage bills. Residents who have been affected by COVID-19 but would have qualified for Social Services assistance prior to the pandemic will be assisted through Social Services' LIHEAP/EHEAP and Housing Assistance programs.
Who is eligible for R3 Assistance through Social Services?
Any resident in Hillsborough County, including those residing in Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace, who has seen a reduction in or loss of wages resulting from layoff or lessening of hours due to COVID-19, but who wouldn't have qualified for assistance for prior to the pandemic, is eligible to apply.
How do I apply for assistance?
You can apply online or call (813) 274-6710 to speak with an eligibility specialist who will provide details on the virtual process and connect you with services. The call center is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
How come I can't get through to speak with someone on the phone?
Due to the incredible response for assistance and technical issues, Hillsborough County has opened up another phone line at (813) 274-6710 for those looking for assistance through the Rapid Response Recovery program. Please be patient as we are experiencing a high-call volume and you may get a busy signal when calling in. Continue to call us throughout the day if you aren't able to get through immediately.
If I've received assistance from Social Services in the past, can I still apply?
If you have received assistance from Social Services within the past year, you are still eligible to apply for services.
What does the assistance pay for?
It will be used to pay past-due utility bills and/or lease/mortgage payments in the name of the person applying for assistance. For instance, if the electric bill is in your spouse's name, your spouse must be the one to apply for R3 assistance with Social Services.
What documents do I need to apply for assistance?
You will need the following paperwork when applying:
- Past-due bill in applicant's name
- Valid lease agreement in applicant's name
- Letter from employer regarding reduction in or loss of wage
- Last pay stub
- Bank statement or document to verify liquid assets (asset limit applies)
- Liquid asset is an asset that can easily be converted into cash in a short amount of time
- Proof of Hillsborough County residency
- Valid driver's license with current address
- Hillsborough County voter registration card
- Vehicle registration with a Hillsborough County address
- Current public school enrollment in Hillsborough County
If I'm approved for assistance, how long will it take to pay my bill?
Every request is unique and will depend on the bill and organization that needs to be paid. Your eligibility specialist will be able to provide you more details during your consultation.