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Escambia County offers help for mortgages


Escambia County residents having trouble meeting their mortgage payments can get help from a new source.

The Escambia County Emergency Mortgage Assistance — or EMA — Program kicked off last week.

“To support COVID-related issue with residents; to help them pay their mortgages they’re behind, and also utilities,” said program director Clara Long.

The funding comes from $1 billion provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but certain eligibility requirements must be met.

“[For] a family of one, the income is between $34,000 and $40,000 [per year],” Long said. If it’s a family household of two, then the bracket gets bigger — about $50,000. Those are the basics; they have to be a homeowner, and they have to have their property homesteaded.”

The EMA program will get help from a number of agencies, including the 2-1-1 hotline — a program providing information and referral to communities across Northwest Florida.

“When individuals call them, they can use us as a referral; we have our information on our county website,” said Long. “If they live in the city and are inquiring about how many [live] in the county, they can call the city and they’ll provide that information as well.”

If clients need assistance in uploading information, there’s a hotline they can call.

“It’s (850) 595-0022 to get an appointment set up,” said Long. “We have case managers who can assist them with helping them get information uploaded into the system.”

As far as just how long EMA will be in business, Long says that remains open-ended as long as the funds are available. She adds that when it comes to providing aid, this is not their first rodeo.

“Prior to this program, we did have emergency rental and utility assistance, and still providing assistance,” Long adds. “There was also a need for individuals who may have lost their jobs due to COVID, and experiencing some financial hardships.”

The Escambia CARES Rent and Mortgage Emergency Financial Assistance Grant Program provides up to $7,500 in relief aid, payable to a landlord, lienholder or utility company.

Santa Rosa County does not have an emergency mortgage assistance program — and its CARES program ended a couple of years go.