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Miami-Dade working to distribute federal funds as holidays approach and COVID-19 cases spike

MIAMI – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in South Florida, it exasperates the related economic fallout being felt throughout the region.

Miami-Dade County is up against the clock to distribute millions of CARES Act dollars they were allocated to help those in need by the end of December

While the county continues to disburse funds, economists warn financial needs are expected to intensify amid the continued surge in cases of the novel coronavirus.

Nearly $11 million is what commissioners allocated to United Way of Miami-Dade to help them once again get federal dollars into the hands of those most in need.

They have already helped an estimated 12,000 households, but there were thousands more who had requested the relief funds, people economically pummeled by the ongoing pandemic.

“There are a lot of applications we weren’t able to fund because of limited funding, so this is going to give us an opportunity to fund those that were still in the que, as well as re-opening the applications,” said Vanessa Benavides, Associate Vice President of the United Way of Miami-Dade.

To give a sense of the economic need in our community, that application period re-opened Tuesday morning. The money is expected to cover approximately the first 8,600 applicants.

“The application is going to close when we hit that number,” said Benavides. "We anticipate that maybe (in) 24 (to) 48 hours, the application will close.

“People that were already struggling continue to struggle, and now we have a whole new crop of people that are struggling, and I only think it is going to get worse as the situation is prolonged.”

Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk agrees.

“Retail sales have slowed to their slowest pace since April, which was a massive decline,” Swonk said.

She added that retail sales are projected to contract through December as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase, which may impact the labor market.

“What we worry most about is the inaction and inability of congress to provide any aid,” Swonk said. “Even if it is small, at this point in time any aid is needed. We don’t want the wounds triggered by COVID to fester and become deep scars on the complexion of our economy and our society for years or decades to come.”

HOW TO APPLY FOR RELIEF:

United Way of Miami-Dade application for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) relief funds to first-time applicants who meet hardship assistance criteria:

The application is available in English, Spanish and Creole by visiting apply.unitedwaymiami.org/submit. For more information, visit unitedwaymiami.org/coronavirusresources.

Other COVID-19 resources available:

· Miami-Dade County Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center

· United Way of Miami-Dade COVID-19 Resource Center

· Call 2-1-1, where English, Spanish and Creole speakers are available to assist.


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