With rent due in a couple of days, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announces an initiative that could help folks make it through another month. If approved by city commissioners, the first round of this one-time payment could be made as soon as mid-May. The program is aimed at helping Miami residents get back on their feet.

"We are potentially the first city in America that is providing rental and utility assistance programs through community development block grants that we are being given specifically to address the impact of COVID-19 in our city," Mayor Suarez said in a press briefing Friday.

The plan would pay up to $1,500 in rent or utility assistance directly to the landlord or utility company on behalf of the resident.

Eligible applicants who fall at 60% of the area median income or below can apply for this assistance, and Suarez hopes to begin disbursing money by the middle of May. 

"Obviously, people are suffering tremendously at this particular moment, and the city of Miami is stepping up through our Miami Helps program to help people who are in the direst of need," he continued.

 

Miami-Dade County is currently the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Miami-Dade currently has 10,568 positive cases of COVID-19, with 278 deaths as of Friday. There are 30,174 novel coronavirus cases throughout the state.

Back in early March, Suarez revealed that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus despite not showing any symptoms.

According to NBC6, the announcement came after he learned he was in contact with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's communications director, who tested positive.

The city plans to begin taking applications on May 4 through a website that has not been released yet.

City commissioners are expected to vote on the program next week.

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