Jana Eddy

Funding Provides Relief to Residents Financially Affected by COVID-19

Rent covered through R3 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including those of grateful Town 'N Country family

Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in some way. For many Hillsborough County residents, the pandemic is continuing to cripple their financial outlook. Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa are making a difference by paying for rent and electric bills that residents can't cover due to COVID-19 related hardships.

Jana Eddy and her three sons remain in their Town 'N Country apartment thanks to the Rapid Response Recovery Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The federal funds covered their rent from July through October and their electric bill for one month. Jana has applied for more temporary assistance as she gets a handle on finances.

The federal funds, and local administrators of the program, are amazing, Jana says. "They treat you like family. I'm thankful for everything they do."

Jana and her boys came to Hillsborough County after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated their home and neighborhood on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2017. Since then Jana has struggled to pay household expenses and medical bills for her middle son, who is 14 and has sickle cell anemia. The financial challenges became overwhelming this summer when her son needed a medical procedure at a local hospital, and Jana contracted COVID-19.

Bills mounted as she juggled her part-time work schedule to focus on caring for her son and her own recovery.

That's when Jana's landlord told her about Hillsborough County's R3 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. She can't begin to express her gratitude for the help her family subsequently has received. "Every storm has a rainbow at the end," she says.

Jana's son is back in school, and she has recovered from the coronavirus. The family loves the sense of community at their apartment complex.

The R3 Emergency Rental Assistance Program has approved more than 12,000 applications since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. It has paid or is committed to paying about $50 million in federal assistance for rents and electric bills. Funding still is available for those who qualify.

Hillsborough County renters with household incomes at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) who have past-due payments on active leases, or who have future rental payments they won't be able to make, are eligible to apply. They also might qualify for assistance with past-due electric bills. Landlords are encouraged to register their properties so they can receive direct payments when a tenant is approved for funding.

Find more information about eligibility and how to apply. If you have questions about the program call the Emergency Rental Assistance Program Call Center at (866) 375-9114 to speak with a representative. The call center is open from 9 AM until 5 PM, Monday through Friday, except on holidays.

Photo: Jana Eddy speaks on stairs outside her Town 'N Country apartment. She says the R3 Emergency Rental Assistance Program helped her family remain in their home.