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Sarasota Monday, Sep. 21, 2020 1 year ago

County launches dashboard to monitor federal relief assistance

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As of Monday, one business application had been approved, removing $20,000 from the county's $14.5 million.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Sarasota County opened its applications for residents and businesses to receive federal relief funds Sept. 16, and it launched a dashboard Monday so residents can monitor allocated assistance in real time. 

The county set aside $14.5 million of the total $18.9 million it received as a first batch of federal relief funds for businesses and  individuals affected by COVID-19.

On the dashboard, residents can view the number of applications in progress, the total number of applications submitted and the assistance distributed.

As of Monday, there were 375 businesses applications and 569 individual applications in progress, with 92 business applications and 177 individual applications submitted. One application has been approved so far: a business application.

Businesses can receive up to $20,000, and individuals can receive up to $5,000 in aid. The County Commission allocated $10 million to business assistance and $4.5 million for individuals.

So far, $20,000 of the $14.5 million has been used.

The county is using the online platform Neighborly to make the application process easier, and ambassadors have been stationed at each county library to help facilitate the application process, Emergency Services Director Rich Collins said. Applicants can register before signing into the portal at SCGov.net

“We have a multipronged approach to get the process going,” he said. “COVID-19 has impacted everyone in our community, and individuals are needing assistance, and businesses are suffering, so we’re looking forward to pushing this funding out as quickly as possible.”

Aside from ambassadors, residents also can watch video tutorials on the county’s website or call a hotline specific to the application process, 861-2273.

Collins acknowledged that the process can be difficult, particularly for those who don’t have access to lawyers or certified public accountants. He said the county is working with chambers of commerce and local organizations, such as the NAACP, to help individuals without that access.

“We are working toward where there’ll be assistance for those individuals, so that as they’re applying, somebody will be able to help them on the application process because with small and small minority-owned businesses, the ability to show a profit loss and other things on the application are crucial to success.”

Collins said the county is asking about a number of other programs people might already have received assistance from that would make them ineligible for the county funding, so staff can focus on eligible applicants.

Additionally, the county is facilitating direct funding for individuals. For example, if an individual is requesting rent or mortgage assistance, the funding will go directly to the land holder or mortgage holder. 

The county could receive an additional $56 million in federal relief funds, which would bring the total to $75.7 million, though Collins said staff is still waiting to hear from the governor’s office on when it might arrive.

 

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