CARES FUNDS

HighlandsCares_4_nowords      HIGHLANDS CARES

The CARES application period for phase 1 closed on Friday, Aug. 21. Please continue to check this page for information on when phase 2 will open.

Qualified Highlands County residents and small business owners may now apply online for financial assistance through the Highlands County portion of the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act grant. The online application process will require residents and business owners to fill out a form and attach verifying documentation with the application.

A call center to assist residents with questions regarding Highlands County’s CARES Act financial assistance is available in English and Spanish from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Call Center: 863-402-6780

Individuals

 
Online Application: Individual


The Highlands County CARES Program was created to assist individuals that have experienced a verifiable loss of income due to the impacts of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) by providing $1,500 in grant assistance for living expenses. 

Do I qualify?

  • You must be a primary resident of Highlands County.
  • Applicant must be 18 or older.
  • Only one application per individual will be accepted. Please do not submit multiple applications.

The online application process will require individuals to fill out a form and attach verifying documentation with the application. Individuals who do not have the technology access to complete the online process or have questions may contact United Way of Central Florida by calling 863-648-1500, Ext. 263 to request assistance.

What do I need to apply?

  • Valid Florida ID or Florida driver's license showing Highlands County as the place of residence.
  • Proof of loss of income related to COVID-19 impacts due to health or employment. (furlough, lay-off letter from employer, unemployment statement, pay stubs, etc.)
  • W-2 or 1099.

What will I need to self-certify?

  • I will not utilize Highlands CARES Individuals Program funds to pay for duplication of benefits that may have been received through the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) Funds Program financial disaster assistance from Highlands County Board of County Commissioners to provide funding to pay rent, mortgage payments, or utilities.
  • I consent to the disclosure of such information that I am providing as may be required for purposes of income and other fact verification related to my application for financial assistance. I understand that (i) any willful misstatement of material fact will be grounds for disqualification of my application; (ii) the information I am providing is needed to determine my assistance eligibility and its submission in no way assures qualification for assistance, and; (iii) all documentation I submit is subject to federal and government audits.
  • I confirm the information provided in my submission is true, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge and behalf.
  • I will use financial assistance awarded to me for living expenses.

Highlands CARES FAQs

Small Business / Non-Profit


Online Application: Small Business / Non-Profit  

 
Highlands County-based small businesses and non-profits that can show they were negatively impacted by COVID-19 may receive assistance within the following funding levels: 

  • $2,000 for businesses or organizations with 0-5 employees
  • $5,000 for businesses or organizations with 6–15 employees
  • $7,000 for businesses or organizations with 16-25 employees
  • $10,000 for businesses or organizations with 26–75 employees

A business owner or non-profit can submit up to TWO applications if they have multiple businesses or organizations that meet all other eligibility requirements. A non-profit can submit an application for BOTH the Non-Profit Assistance program and the Community Proposals program.

The online application process will require individuals to fill out a form and attach verifying documentation with the application. Businesses or non-profits who do not have the technology access to complete the online process or have questions may contact the Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce for assistance by calling 863-385-8448.

A business or non-profit applicant that meets ALL of the following criteria qualifies:

  • Applicants must have had 75 or fewer employees, including the owner, as of March 17, 2020.
  • Applicants must have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Applicants must be businesses or non-profits with a principal location in Highlands County that is legally operating within Highlands County and the State of Florida prior to March 17, 2020.

Ineligibility Criteria:

  • Highlands County firms that are a subsidiary or partially owned by a publicly traded company or hedge fund.
  • Companies with legal actions against or from the County, including code enforcement liens.
  • 501c(6) organizations involved with lobbying.

 Required Business and Non-Profit Documents:

  • A copy or picture of each business owner’s ID or non-profit leadership’s ID
  • “Active” status business registration from the FL Division of Corporations (Sunbiz), or a copy of municipal business license, or copy of Schedule C.
  • A completed and signed IRS W-9 form.
  • For businesses with two or more employees: W-3 summary or IRS 941 showing the number of employees prior to March 17, 2020.
  • Information to estimate company’s average monthly expenses before March 17, 2020 or other verification of loss of business or revenue directly related to COVID-19.

 What will a business or non-profit need to self-certify?

  • I (we) certify that I (we) have the authority to apply for this grant on behalf of the business or non-profit described herein.
  • I (we) certify that the business or non-profit has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 emergency ad described herein.
  • I (we) certify that the grant funds will be used for authorized business expenses only, in accordance with the requirements and restrictions set forth in Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act, as added by Section 5001 of the CARES Act, and not for household, personal, or consumer use.
  • I (we) certify that the information contained in this application is true, complete, and correct to the best of my (our) knowledge.
  • I (we) shall cooperate with the County or appropriate officials for grant auditing purposes, as further set forth and described above.
  • I (we) understand that any willful misrepresentation on this Application could result in a fine and/or imprisonment under provision of the United States Criminal Code U.S.C. Title 18, Section 1001, and shall entitle the County to receive a return of any funding provided here under, in addition to any other remedies it may have against Applicant at law or in equity.
  • I (we) further understand that, pursuant to Section 92.525, Florida Statutes, a person who knowingly makes a false declaration thereunder is guilty of the crime of perjury by false written declaration, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Sections 775.082, 775.083 or 775.084, Florida Statutes.
  • I (we) understand that failure to use any funding received pursuant to this Application in accordance with the requirements set forth herein or in Section 601(d) of the Social Security Act, as added by Section 5001 of the CARES Act, shall entitle the County to receive a return of such funding, in addition to any other remedies it may have against Applicant at law or in equity.
  • I (we) understand that in the event this Application is printed, signed, and delivered to the County, or its designated agent, in hard copy format (by mail, courier service, hand delivery, or otherwise) and not submitted electronically, then the Applicant, by virtue of its physical signature, specifically authorizes and directs the County, or its designated agent, to electronically sign the Application on the Applicant’s behalf, for purposes of the County’s file tracking and retention system.

Highlands CARES Business and Non-Profit FAQs

Community Proposals


Online Application: Community Proposals

 
Community Proposal applications will close at 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21. Staff will review non-profit community proposals after this date and bring them before the Board of County Commissioners at the regularly scheduled Sept. 1, 2020 board meeting.

Highlands County non-profits can submit customized proposals to request funding for a community program or project that is directly related to COVID-19 relief and assistance within the County. Proposals can be submitted for future programs or retroactive reimbursement of existing programs as of March 17, 2020. Examples include, food bank programs, proposals to assist the elderly in food delivery, feeding the homeless and more.

Note: A non-profit may submit an application for BOTH the Non-Profit Assistance program and the Community Proposals program.

A non-profit applicant that meets ALL of the following criteria qualifies:

  • Applicants must have had 75 or fewer employees, including the owner, as of March 17, 2020.
  • Applicants must have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Applicants must be businesses or non-profits with a principal location in Highlands County that is legally operating within Highlands County and the State of Florida prior to March 17, 2020.

Ineligibility Criteria:

  • Highlands County firms that are a subsidiary or partially owned by a publicly traded company or hedge fund.
  • Companies with legal actions against or from the County, including code enforcement liens.
  • 501c(6) organizations involved with lobbying.

Required Business and Non-Profit Documents:

  • A copy or picture of each business owner’s ID or non-profit leadership’s ID
  • “Active” status business registration from the FL Division of Corporations (Sunbiz), or a copy of municipal business license, or copy of Schedule C.
  • A completed and signed IRS W-9 form.
  • For businesses with two or more employees: W-3 summary or IRS 941 showing the number of employees prior to March 17, 2020.
  • Information to estimate company’s average monthly expenses before March 17, 2020 or other verification of loss of business or revenue directly related to COVID-19.

Highlands CARES Community Proposal FAQs

All funds will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the allocation is gone. Highlands County has until December 30, 2020 to expend all CARES Act funding. The allocated assistance to small businesses, individuals, and community programs do not have to be paid back, but MAY be taxable.