Pandemic fund assistance applicants wait for United Way response
Five days after launching a $20 million pandemic assistance program Aug. 5, United Way of Miami-Dade said it was overwhelmed with 9,000 applications for the federal funds and called time out, leaving many of those hit hard during the pandemic still questioning today if they were approved for funds and receiving no answers.
Since that pause, Miami Today has reached out with interview requests. All were declined, with spokespeople for the umbrella charitable organization stating they were not ready for an interview and were still in the process of generating their own report. “We’ll be in touch with you when we can provide an interview,” a United Way spokesperson told Miami Today.
There has been no public report.
Miami-Dade County, which partnered with United Way, announced the program Aug. 5, stating in the announcement “Miami-Dade County selected United Way to distribute the $20 million in federal funds due to its extensive experience in addressing the community’s needs.”
“Our county’s collaboration with United Way of Miami-Dade will ensure that residents receive the assistance they need to make it through this pandemic,” Mayor Carlos Giménez said, adding that handing the funding over to the charitable organization would “streamline this process.”
But applications for the Miami-Dade Pandemic Assistance Program that was to address short-term economic hardship through financial assistance for basic living expenses were quickly halted, Miami Today reported Aug. 11, after which a flood of public comments began pouring in to MiamiTodayNews.com wondering if their applications were even considered.
A few people wrote that they had received funding. Most others said they were still waiting. A few said United Way had told them the funding was exhausted.
“I applied on Aug. 7 and for three weeks it said received. A friend of mine applied Aug. 8 and has already got an approval. So, I know they are not doing them in order. I just hope I get approved,” Carrie Wilborn wrote in the comment section Sept. 4. “Unemployment is a joke and living paycheck-to-paycheck is not working. What is $400 every two weeks? $800 a month my rent is $1,300. I hope I’m approved soon; it will definitely help.”
“I guess everyone who applied on the [August] 7th is just being skipped over. Everyone who is being approved applied on the 5, 6, 8th and 9,” she commented again Sept. 11.
The pandemic assistance program, funded by the federal CARES Act, is meant to continue helping asset-limited, income-constrained employed individuals and families impacted by the economic fallout who had a significant loss of income due to unemployed or underemployed.
Depending on household size and income, individuals were eligible for up to $1,000 and families with three or more members could receive up to $2,000, United Way previously told Miami Today.
“I’m in desperate need of this assistance like all of you guys, it’s been well over a month and it’s been in progress for a week now. I hope we all get good news soon,” Jess, a Miami Today reader, commented Sept 8.
When the application process was launched and then closed, United Way said each application was to be reviewed one-on-one, which might take a couple of weeks. Once all submissions were reviewed and approved, the agency said, the application process was to re-open until the $20 million was exhausted in the first-come, first-serve style fund distributing.
“I applied on Aug. 5, I got accepted Sept. 10, and received my payment Sept. 11 in my bank account this morning. I’m praying for everyone in this comment section, and others in need get the assistance they need. Thank You United Way,” Gerda wrote Sept. 11.
While several of those who applied for the relief fund got a response and received funds in their bank accounts, others who have been waiting for over a month wrote that they got a different response.
“I received a call from United Way thinking it was to inform me about my application and it was a lady to let me know they have a high volume of applications which is why it is taking long. She indicated someone will call by the end of last week. I just recently called and a gentleman just informed me that the funds ran out,” reader Shannel wrote in the comment section Sept. 15. She said she had applied for the funds Aug. 5.
Another concerned reader, Nikki, replied Sept. 18, “I was told the same thing. The funds ran out! I applied the first day it opened. No one ever called me and informed me of anything. In fact, they ask for my bank information to be updated on Sept. 5. I did and nothing. It’s me and three boys underage.”