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Florida will stop accepting applications this week for rental and utility assistance

The state launched the assistance program last year for low-income and unemployed residents who were behind on rent or utility payments. (Grispb/Stock.Adobe.Com)

The state Department of Children and Families announced Tuesday it is poised to stop taking applications for a federally funded rental- and utility-assistance program for low-income and unemployed residents.

The department launched the OUR Florida program, or Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance, last year to help people who were behind on rent or utility payments. Applications will be accepted through Thursday.

“As we prepare to close the OUR Florida portal, I encourage families who may be interested in receiving relief or who have a need to submit their application prior to May 12. There’s still time to get the relief you need,” Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris said in a statement.

Money for the program came from $1.4 billion allocated to Florida by the U.S. Department of the Treasury last year, with about $529 million distributed directly to recipients by local governments with populations of more than 200,000.

The Department of Children and Families said more than $1.3 billion has been distributed to more than 228,000 families through the program. Low-income renters and people unemployed for at least 90 days before applying have received priority for the money.

The agency aims to have “all available funds obligated” to families who are approved for the program by May 27, according to a news release. Applications will continue to be processed until available funds are obligated. “Applications that were already approved for prospective payments will continue to receive the relief previously approved,” the news release said.

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