Osceola County’s goal is to provide assistance to those harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Federal relief payments will come out in mid-April, and people can apply for unemployment through the state’s department of economic opportunity, but that’s been a glitchy process because of the high demand.

This week, the county moved to directly help citizens with food and housing assistance. If you’ve experienced a loss of job or change in income, you are encouraged to apply for SNAP benefits, as the  process has been expedited for new applicants. They can get help in as little as 3 to 7 days. The county will also be providing additional funds to local food pantries to continue the hard work they’ve been doing assisting Osceola families. By Friday the county government’s website (osceola.org) will be updated with information on this initiative, County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer said Wednesday evening during a streamed briefing.

Regarding housing help, Janer said the county has assisted some 200 families since October 2019, and additional funds have come in to help 150 to 200 more families for up to two months. On Monday, the county will start accepting applications for families who have lost jobs or had income impacted due to COVID-19 at the website Housing.Osceola.org. Applicants will need to proof of job loss, a current lease and ID.

“We know the need in our community is great, and that resources will be limited,” Janer said. “There will likely be a need to increase this assistance as the coronavirus continues to impact our community. Additional funds will likely comes from the federal CARES Act (Congress’ $2.2 trillion aid package for families and businesses) that will allow to assist more families.”

Meanwhile, Janer also addressed the Stay at Home declaration, which went from county-wide to state-wide Wednesday as Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order for Florida — much the same one Osceola and Orange counties have operated under since last week.

“While this action may be uncomfortable,but it absolutely necessary in order to save lives,” the chairwoman said. “You are not stuck at home, you are safe at home.”