Osceola County has received — finally — a payment from the federal CARES Act, through the state government that could be used for business or housing relief.

County Manager Don Fisher announced during Monday’s telephonic Board of County Commissioners meeting that the state of Florida had released $16.3 million in funds to the county. Commission Chair Viviana Janer said a larger amount (closer to $22 million) would have come, and come sooner, had Osceola County had over 500,000 residents — painting the importance of the 2020 Census. 

Fisher said he’d be meeting with staff this week for the best manner to allocate those funds.

At Monday’s meeting, the board agreed on its plan to dedicate $936,000 for Community Development Block Grants to disperse as another round of mortgage foreclosure prevention and rental assistance beginning July 6. The system is a little different than the other three rounds, which ended minutes after 500 applications were accepted online. Applicants may apply from July 6-8, and after the process ends, 500 applicants will be randomly selected to receive housing assistance funds.

Meanwhile, the County is using $500,000 already budgeted for economic development for the Emergency Economic Relief Grant Program, which began taking applications last week at www.weveopenedsafely.com. Fisher said 87 applications had already been received by Monday morning.

Eligible businesses in unincorporated Osceola County can receive up to $5,000 in emergency funding that can be used for rent or mortgage, payroll, utilities and costs of materials or equipment necessary for reopening or operating during social distancing mandates such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), plexiglass barriers and such.

Priority goes to business owners that have not received other relief funding and to those who are Osceola County residents. The application deadline is June 26, with funds being distributed after July 20.