Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces the One Tampa plan, which will help with rent, mortgage and utilities payments for City of Tampa residents.

Center ice at Amalie Arena is usually the backdrop for thousands of cheering fans and thunderous ovations, but on Tuesday, it was empty.

That didn’t stop Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, however, from standing on the same spot usually reserved for the heroics of the Tampa Bay Lightning and doing something that is likely to earn her cheers from thousands as well.

As hurting Tampa residents await aid from the federal government, Castor unveiled details of the City of Tampa’s new “One Tampa: Relief Now, Rise Together” fund, a partnership with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and the Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce that will provide significant relief for many in the community.

The fund will cover up to $1,000 for rent or mortgage paid directly to the landlord or mortgagor, and up to $250 for essential utilities (water, gas and electric).

Small businesses that meet the criteria will have up to $4,000 for rent or mortgage covered, and up to $1,000 for utilities. 

“As a lifelong Tampanian, I know one thing to be true: Tampa has grit,” Castor said. “When faced with challenges, our community always comes together to help our neighbors in need. One Tampa will provide critical financial support to those hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.”

While the plan will effect the majority of those living in New Tampa, those who reside in the unincorporated sections — Cross Creek, Pebble Creek and Live Oak, primarily — are not eligible fro this funding.

Applicants will be able to apply online at OneTampa.org, by phone, or by mail by filling out an online qualifying questionnaire, which will be available Friday, April 17 at noon for individuals and families, and on Tuesday, April 21 for small businesses.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, Buccaneers, Rays and Rowdies have already donated $100,000 each to the One Tampa fund. 

Anyone can be a part of the One Tampa project. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so at the website.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay will be responsible for ensuring the aid is reaching those who need it most, while the Tampa Bay Chamber will assist small businesses that qualify for these grants.

For more information and details about qualifying criteria, visit OneTampa.org. Residents also can call the Crisis Center hotline at 2-1-1 and dial 7 for more information or assistance with the application process.

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