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First Coast

Mayor Curry: $29M In Rent, Utility Relief Coming To Jacksonville From Feds

File photo of Mayor Lenny Curry.
Sydney Boles
/
WJCT News

The city of Jacksonville has received $28.9 million from the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to go towards rent and utility payments for struggling families. 

Once appropriated by City Council, the funds will be targeted to people who fall below 80% of area median income. In Jacksonville, that’s about $60,000 per year for a family of four. 

Applicants must also have experienced a hardship caused by COVID-19 and not received assistance from certain other programs during the pandemic. 

“Funds from this program may be used for utility bills or rent payments, and may cover up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional three months if needed to ensure housing stability,” Mayor Lenny Curry explained at a Monday afternoon news conference.

Curry plans to present legislation to City Council appropriating $5 million of the federal dollars for past-due JEA bills and $23.8 million for United Way for rental assistance. Payments will be made directly to the utility company or the landlord. 

City Council is expected to appropriate the funds for the program in about two weeks. 

Curry acknowledged that past programs had left eligibility gaps. “We’re in unprecedented territory,” he said. “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. We’re going to have obstacles. There's going to be wrinkles. But we’re going to work through it.”

The city estimates as many as 10,000 customers will be helped with utility bills. Financial models have not been completed to determine how many Duval County residents will be helped with back rent. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.