Using Community Development Block Grant funds, Osceola County will make another round of COVID-19 pandemic rental and mortgage assistance available in the beginning of July.

It’s system for taking applications may change — for the better in some residents’ eyes.

In previous months, the county has made 500 applications available at 8 a.m. on the morning of the signup date — and the slots have consistently taken less than 15 minutes to fill.

At Monday’s County Commission meeting, County Manager Don Fisher suggested a change to an open lottery system, where the county holds an open application process for three days, vets them to assure they’re eligible for the program, they randomly chooses 500 applications to receive assistance grants.

“We feel a more open process would be better than what we’ve done so far this year,” said Fisher, who noted the change may appear on next week’s Commission agenda for approval.

The county has heard complaints of the system locking out applicants at the 8 a.m. start and not being able to register in time to get rental help.

The county will have $936,000 for grants this next time around, including $500,000 that had been set aside for business assistance, but county officials felt there’s a greater need for housing assistance. Fisher said the county will eventually transfer $500,000 from the county’s economic development technology budget to assist locally-owned businesses with one to 25 employees with rent and payroll help and with costs for COVID-19 reaction materials. The hope is there will be more money from the federal CARES Act coming for small business assistance.

“We don’t want to look back in three years and say we spent money based on what felt good at the time, we want to say we helped the people who needed it,” Fisher said.