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Rental assistance available from FKOC, FEMA

While homeowners grapple with insurance, Florida Keys renters post-Hurricane Irma were left with few options for help paying rent after losing nearly a month’s income in many cases.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offered rental assistance, which in Key West came in the form of $1,600 — the minimum rent for a studio apartment under federal rules — and in some cases an additional $500 for evacuation expenses such as gasoline, food and clothing.

But not everyone who applied at disasterassistance.gov received the same level of financial compensation via direct deposit and the online application process. Some renters are awaiting eligibility decisions or were flat-out denied.

FEMA also provides a lodging reimbursement program for evacuees who spent money on hotel rooms while awaiting word on storm damage.

An alternative to FEMA for renters in need of help is the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s rental assistance program, which in August spent $17,000 to help keep people in their homes, according to interim director Stephanie Kaple.

“FKOC has some money for this,” Kaple said Sunday during a town hall-style meeting at Key West City Hall hosted by City Commissioner Sam Kaufman and City Manager Jim Scholl. “We're begging the state to give us more because we know we're going to need more.”

The number for the FKOC is (305) 295-7741.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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