Florida is set to release $75 million in funding to counties for rental and mortgage assistance for residents, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced at a press conference Friday. 20% of the pot has been allocated to South Florida.
The money will go to local governments for them to manage and distribute. It been budgeted from the state's CARES Act dollars, which were part of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in March.
"Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are now suffering even more, losing their jobs, struggling to find jobs, figuring out how to pay for childcare," DeSantis said Friday. "This has been a profound disruption in peoples' lives, and we have a responsibility to help meet needs in this regard."
Miami-Dade and Broward Counties are each set to receive $7.5 million, among the highest amounts going to Florida counties. That number will be divided among the counties' cities.
Friday's press conference took place at Wellington Park Apartments in Apopka, an apartment complex in Orange County the mayor said was included in a local affordable housing initiative.
Of the $75 million, another $7.63 million has been allocated to Orange County, $1.1 million to Seminole County and $2.5 million to Osceola County. DeSantis noted that Central Florida had been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic's economic side effects.
Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 10.4% in June from the previous month's 13.7% rate as the state's theme parks, beaches and other tourism-related businesses started reopening after weeks of coronavirus-related lockdowns, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday.
But the state's economic future remains clouded by recent spikes in Florida's COVID-19 caseload, as evidenced by this week's showing that jobless claims almost doubled last week from the previous week, economists said.
Additionally, a host of large hotels have said that they are turning temporary furloughs from March into permanent layoffs at the end of July.
“Many businesses, particularly in South Florida, are facing a reduced demand and a lot of uncertainty due to the new surge in Covid-19 cases," said Hector Sandoval, an economist at the University of Florida. “There are several companies in the accommodation and food services industry still announcing layoffs."
Year-over-year, the hospitality industry has lost about 1 in 5 jobs in Florida, or 268,400 positions, the hardest hit industry in the state.
Florida gained 296,000 jobs from June to May.
In June, there were more than 1 million jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9.7 million workers.
The only industry gaining jobs over the year was construction with an additional 4,600 positions added.
Florida added more than 11,000 new coronavirus cases to its tally Friday, pushing the state's total close to 330,000 as the death toll rose by more than a hundred for the fourth day in a row.
The state has seen a large increase in cases in the past several weeks, with more than 83,000 cases confirmed in the last seven days, about 25% of the total count.
In Miami-Dade County, the state's most populous and the current epicenter of the outbreak, there were 2,442 new coronavirus cases reported Friday, pushing the county's total to 77,867.
On Thursday evening, Miami-Dade county commissioners unanimously voted to install a civil fine of $100 for those caught without wearing a mask. The rule went into effect immediately.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the situation there has become so dire that he is considering another stay-at-home order and business shutdown. Suarez said at a news conference he would meet with business leaders before making a decision, possibly Friday.