Since the coronavirus pandemic began, there’s been a slogan used a lot to encourage people to do what they’ve needed to do as a community — stay at home for the weeks that order was in place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and stay away from risky behavior in crowds, all in the name of stopping the spread of the virus.
That slogan’s been: We’re In This Together. That applies to your local leaders at well.
As many as 20 percent of Osceola County residents are now unemployed, state and federal unemployment benefits have been difficult to get processed, and rent, mortgage and utility payments will soon come due — June 1 is Monday. People are hurting, and leadership is doing what it can to help.
Another community food distribution was held Saturday, this one at Archie Gordon Park in Buenaventura Lakes. Staples like rice, beans, snacks, and fresh produce courtesy of Farm Share went to about 500 people, and were distributed thanks to volunteers from City of Life Church. Also, as an added and unadvertised bonus, masks, hand sanitizer and gloves courtesy La Kalle 93.7 FM.
It wasn’t the first food distribution like this, and the county has also directed over $80,000 in funding toward over a dozen food banks and pantries that distribute what they can to families across the county — food banks that get in shipments, and pass them out to triple the number of families asking than before the pandemic started in March.
“Everyone is having a hand in helping the community through this difficult time,” said County Commissioner Viviana Janer, whose district 2 includes BVL and the area around Archie Gordon Park. “I hope as businesses continue to open things will get better, but the fact is many people are still behind on bills, having to choose between rent and food. We’re happy to provide events like this and the funding.”
Anyone experiencing food insecurity to visit osceola.org/covid19 to see a list of the pantries
“We’re doing everything we can in Osceola County to prevent people from going hungry,” Janer said.
The county is even sharing in those folks’ pain. Osceola leaders have implored Tallahassee to open up its share of $1.2 billion in federal help — it would amount to about $22.2 million — that’s been backed up because money is not going directly to counties with fewer than 500,000 residents, as Janer has explained in weeks past (It’s as good a reason as any to make sure you’ve answered the call of the 2020 Census to get counted).
Also, on Monday, the county will begin accepting applications for a third round of foreclosure prevention and rental assistance for residents Monday morning at 8 a.m. That’s when the application on the county’s website — Housing.Osceola.org — opens up. Click the Rental Assistant/Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Screening Form to apply.