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United Way Reopens Applications for Pandemic Funds

October 01, 2020

After temporarily pausing application submissions for a $20 million pandemic assistance program more than a month ago, United Way of Miami-Dade says it is set to complete reviewing this week more than 9,000 initial applicants, distribute funds and reopen today (10/1) for new submissions. 
In partnership with the county and funded by the federal CARES Act, fund distributions began Aug. 15, with more than $13.8 million now sent to about 9,200 households to assist more than 29,000 adults and children, United Way officials said, and for a limited time only, first-time applications will be accepted beginning today. The submission process will close automatically once the maximum number of applications is received to exhaust the remaining funds available. The application is available in English, Spanish and Creole at 
“We anticipated and planned to pause application submissions after we received over 9,000 because we knew we were going to get those numbers,” said Vanessa Benavides, United Way’s associate vice president. “Once we are done reviewing those applications, we will have a better feel of how much funds remain and hopefully put that information out of how many more applications we can receive.”
With about 40 trained employees, each application is carefully reviewed for proper documentation, any duplications and missing information, officials said. 
Once approved, applicants can expect to receive funds within a week, Ms. Benavides said. “We are processing and sending payments twice a week electronically or mailed checks.”
United Way said about $4 million to $5 million of Miami-Dade Pandemic Assistance Program remain available. The program, which launched Aug. 5, addresses short-term economic hardship through financial assistance for basic living expenses such as food, utilities, childcare, medical expenses and rental assistance, among others. Depending on household size and income, individuals were eligible for up to $1,000 and families of three or more could receive up to $2,000.
With multiple emergency relief programs distributing funds, United Way has had an increased volume of phone and email inquiries for federal funds like the Miami-Dade County Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is unrelated to the Miami-Dade Pandemic Assistance Program, Ms. Benavides explained.
“We can understand that people are stressed out and frustrated, but there are so many programs that have been launched and sometimes individuals are mixing them up and getting confused,” she said, “but we are here to help sort it out. I believe there was a misunderstanding when we temporarily closed the application process and people assumed we ran out of money.”
United Way continues to process all applications and will serve as a resource in the disbursement process until funds are exhausted, she added. “There’s a lot going on out there and we are here to help navigate or solve any remaining issues or concerns.”