| Pensacola News Journal
An earlier version of this story had the incorrect number for the total amount of funding for the family grant program.
After a week’s delay, Escambia County residents who earn less than $45,000 a year will be able to apply for $2,000 grants starting Friday if the COVID-19 pandemic has financially impacted them.
Hurricane Sally: Escambia County gets ‘major disaster’ declaration. What does this mean for residents?
Pensacola Bay Bridge: Ferry service planned for ‘period of months, if not a year’ as Pensacola Bay Bridge is out
Initially, 1,750 families were expected to be awarded $2,000 grants based on a first-qualified, first-served basis, according to a county press release on the grant program.
However, commissioners voted Thursday morning to increase the amount in the program from $3.5 million to $9.5 million. That will add 3,000 more families who can receive grants, for a total of 4,750 grants.
Applications must be completed by 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The program is being funded from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
The county was scheduled to start taking applications Sept. 18, but Hurricane Sally pushed the opening date for applications back a week.
Applications can be filled out online at myescambia.com/CARES.
Applicants can also receive help filling out the grant application at the following locations Friday through Tuesday. Help will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends:
- Brownsville Community Center, 3200 W. DeSoto St.
- Carver Park Resource Center, 208 Webb St.
- Century Branch Library, 7991 N. Century Blvd.
- Dorrie Miller Community Center, 2819 N. Miller St.
- Escambia County Extension Services, 3740 Stefani Road
- Gull Point Community Center, 7000 Spanish Trail
- Marie K. Young Wedgewood Community Center, 6405 Wagner Road
- Molino Community Center, 6450 Highway 95-A North
- Walnut Hill Community Center, 7850 Highway 97 North
Additionally, the Beulah Senor Center at 7425 Woodside Drive will be open for applicants from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 1 to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
To be eligible for a grant, a person must meet the following requirements:
- Be residents of Escambia County
- Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a household income of $45,000 or less
- Have been negatively impacted by COVID-19
Applicants must provide the following items in their application:
- Certification of COVID-19 impact
- Copy of a valid, state-issued ID
- Copy of Social Security card or other proof of a Social Security number
- Tax-filers: Copy of the first page of their 2019 federal tax return (IRS form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ)
- Non-tax filers: Self-certification letter stating why you did not file a 2019 federal income tax return and/or the type of income you received — Social Security Benefits (SSA, SSI/SSD), Railroad Retirement, Veterans Affairs Pension, Disability Benefits, etc.
- A completed W-9 form
Escambia County has received $14.3 million so far from the CARES Act and is eligible to receive an additional $43 million.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week his plan for distributing the remaining rounds of funding for the CARES Act to counties with populations of less than 500,000 people. So far, the plan has unlocked an additional $11 million for Escambia County to gain access to if it can submit a spending plan to the state.
Escambia County’s current CARES Act plan calls for a total of $8.5 million to be spent on family grants.
Commissioners speculated they might change the requirements for future rounds of grants to raise the maximum income allowed.
Commissioner Robert Bender pointed out that a family that made $60,000 last year may be making less than $45,000 because of economic impacts from the pandemic.
There is an urgency to the county figuring out its entire plan as the funds must be spent by the end of the year or the county will lose access to them.
“There’s probably 0% chance we’re going to get 100% (of the funds) unless we get moving,” Escambia County Commissioner Janice Gilley said Thursday.
Jim Little can be reached at email@example.com and 850-208-9827.