Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance

covid19 pinellas care Jul 30, 2020

It's now even easier to apply for help paying overdue rent, mortgage or utilities with Pinellas CARES. Text COVIDCARES to 898211. Updated qualifications include: signed form attesting job/income loss from COVID19 & $10K or less in the bank + a picture of documents showing U.S. & Pinellas residency. You can get up to $5K per household, including new bills, even if you previously received help since March. Learn more:

Pinellas County is launching new programs to provide emergency financial assistance to individuals, families and small businesses hardest hit by COVID-19.

The Pinellas CARES programs funded by $170 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will also strengthen local public health efforts to fight coronavirus, including additional health supplies, equipment and support for community testing.

Thousands of individuals and small business owners have already received relief through these programs, but more help is available!

Support for Individuals & Families

Pinellas CARES Financial Assistance has broadened eligibility for individuals and families who need help with overdue rent, mortgage or utility bills.

Anyone who has lost a job or significant income due to COVID-19 can now apply for a maximum of $5,000 in assistance per household during the period starting March 1, 2020.

To qualify, applicants now only need to sign an attestation form affirming their loss of income was directly related to COVID-19 and provide documentation of their residency in the county and United States.

Individuals can apply for assistance by contacting 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares: Text COVIDCARES to 898211.

Applicants who did not previously qualify for the program or who already received help, but need assistance for additional overdue bills, can apply again.  

Payments will be disbursed directly to the utility, mortgage or other eligible agency to which the individual bills are due.

Other Pinellas CARES programs

Please note: Details about the programs below and how to apply will be shared in the coming weeks as operations are established to start accepting and processing applications.

Small Business Support: More than 5,000 small businesses applied for $5,000 in assistance through the Pinellas CARES Small Business Grants through the close of the application period of June 30. That program focused on businesses with a commercial location, but new programs are in the works to help more businesses that did not qualify for the first round.

Nonprofit Services: Support for nonprofits and other organizations that have seen a spike in service needs during the pandemic, such as feeding programs, behavioral health and legal assistance to prevent evictions.

Pandemic Response: Increased local capacity for testing, contact tracing, skilled nursing, personal protective equipment (PPE), community health educators, and other public health measures.

Pinellas CARES Background

Pinellas County received $170 million from the federal CARES Act fund, which can be used for bolstering public health programs and supplies related to COVID-19 and financial assistance to individuals, businesses and local organizations impacted by the pandemic.

This spring, the County sought broad input for how to use these funds to meet the community’s greatest needs, including a virtual conversation and a survey that garnered 1,114 responses.

Unemployment & Income Assistance

If you are currently out of work, the State of Florida’s Reemployment Assistance Program may be able to provide financial assistance. For information about eligibility and the application process, read the State Department of Economic Opportunity’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Paper Applications

If you experience technical difficulties with the Reemployment Assistance online application, you can also print and fill out a paper application: ( English | Spanish | Creole ) Please note that paper applications could potentially take longer for the state to process than completing an online application.

Paper applications are also available at the locations below. For the purpose of social distancing, the papers are stocked in red boxes near the entrance of each location:

Pinellas Public Library Cooperative building
1330 Cleveland St., Clearwater, FL

Barbara S. Ponce Public Library 
7770 52nd St. N., Pinellas Park, FL 33781 

St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus Library 
9200 113th St. N., Seminole, FL 33772 

St. Pete Beach Public Library 
365 73rd Ave., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706 

Resources for Employers:

Food Pantry/Distribution Sites

Pinellas County has more than 100 food distribution sites, offering prepared meals, groceries, and other resources for adults and children in need.

School Meals

To find the closest schools that are offering meals to students during school closures, visit Summer BreakSpot.

Home Meal Delivery for Kids & Seniors

  • Meals on Wheels for Kids
  • Neighborly Care Network/Meals on Wheels for Seniors: Drive-thru and delivery options available for older adults 60+ with safe social distancing – Call 727-573-9444

Apply for Food & Nutrition Assistance

Many requirements to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been waived to help more people get immediate help paying for essentials – no in-person interviews are required.

Apply online or call 866-762-2237 or 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771). Agents are available for extended hours, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Pet Care Assistance

Pet Food Pantries

The following organizations offer pet food pantries for pet owners who are facing financial hardship: 

  • Pinellas County Animal Services
    Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
    12450 Ulmerton Rd.
    Largo, FL 33774
    Phone: (727) 582-2600
    Details: An employee will meet you at the entrance or you may call from the parking lot and an employee will come out to assist. Each citizen is limited to two bags or six cans of food per visit.
  • Humane Society of Pinellas  
    Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
    3040 State Road 590 
    Clearwater, FL 33759 
    Phone: (727) 797-7722 
    Details: To pick up food, knock on the door at the Humane Society’s Volunteer Village, located at their facility, and a representative will assist you and bring the food out to you.  
  • SPCA of Tampa Bay 
    Tuesdays from 1-5 p.m. 
    9099 130th Avenue North 
    Largo, FL 33773 
    Phone: (727) 586-3591, ext. 121 
    Details: Call ahead to ensure the food pantry has adequate food stocks to meet your needs. If you are planning to pick up canned food, bring plastic grocery bags to transport the food home. When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have a valid photo ID. 
  • Grassroots Kava House and Pup Active Pet Food Pantry
    Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Saturdays and Sunday8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    957 Central Avenue
    St. Petersburg, FL 33705
    Phone: (727) 220-3041
    Details: If you’re unable to leave your home due to quarantine or being immunocompromised, you can send Grassroots Kava House a message via their Facebook page to discuss possible delivery within St. Petersburg city limits.

Friends of Strays Safer At Home Fund (St. Petersburg residents)

Friends of Strays has partnered with Operation: SNIP, SPOT: Spay & Neuter, and Pet Food Warehouse to provide veterinary care and pet supplies at no cost to St. Petersburg residents who are out of work. The program is designed to provide those who are unable to care for their pets due to loss of income with an alternative to surrendering their animal to a shelter. 

The Safer At Home Fund provides vouchers for the following goods and services:

  • Cat and dog food
  • Cat litter
  • Flea & tick preventative
  • Annual exams
  • Spay/neuter surgery
  • Core vaccines
  • Dewormer

Those in need of assistance can fill out a short online questionnaire on the Friends of Strays website.


Duke Energy announced on March 15 that the company would not disconnect customers’ service for non-payment at this time in order to give customers experiencing financial hardship extra time to make payments.

Internet for Students & Teachers

Spectrum is offering free WiFi for 60 days for Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households that don’t currently have internet or WiFi service. All installation and pre-payment fees will be waived. View more information.


If you are unable to afford transportation and need a ride to a food pantry, doctor appointment, grocery storeor job interview, contact 211 Tampa Bay Cares about its Ride United program. The program provides free round trip short-term rides via Lyft Ride Share. View eligibility requirements and contact information.

Business Resources

Municipal Grant Programs:

Short Time Compensation Program for Employers:

This Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) program helps employers retain their workforce in times of temporary slowdown by encouraging work sharing as an alternative to layoff.   

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Resources:

For the latest updates about resources for Pinellas County businesses, visit the Pinellas County Economic Development Council website or follow on LinkedIn. Florida businesses can also visit for more information.

Mental Health & Emotional Support

The following crisis hotlines provide free, confidential support:


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