Deadline Approaching to Apply for Rent Assistance in Pasco County

PORT RICHEY, Fla. — As rent prices climb, Marcy Esbjerg said the need for more affordable housing options in Paso County is great.

“Every time I think it can’t get any worse, it gets worse,” Esbjerg said. “The median sale price has gone up, the number of vacancies for rentals has fallen to almost nothing, and everyone has seen a significant increase in their rent.”

Esbjerg, Pasco County’s director of community development, is ready to help some of these tenants.

A county program called Helping with Emergency Assistance Relief for Tenants — or HEART — is entering its second phase. The program, funded by stimulus dollars the county received from the U.S. federal bailout, is helping eligible county residents with funds to help pay rent and utility bills.

The first phase of HEART helped 2,300 people. Esbjerg said the county is now ready to help thousands more.

“We help people who have less than 80% of the regional median income (AMI),” Esbjerg explained.

For reference, the 80% AMI for a four-person household in Pasco County is $59,050 and $41,350 for a one-person household. Applicants must be residents of Pasco County. They must also have been “economically impacted” by COVID-19, which Esbjerg says should be a very easy threshold to meet.

Pasco County

Those wishing to apply for the aid can do so on the county website at this linkwhich will remain open for periods of 10 days after the second Monday of each month.

Additionally, those who do not wish to apply online can apply through nine partner nonprofits:

According to Esbjerg, households earning less than 50% of the AMI and applicants who have been unemployed for 90 days or more will be prioritized.

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