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Coronavirus Florida: UF student bill would pass $500K for rent relief

Sarah Nelson
snelson@gvillesun.com
Winter Haven News Chief

A bill that would make half a million dollars available in rent relief for students is in the works by the University of Florida’s Student Government.

Last week, the student government’s executive committee approved to draw $500,000 from the group’s reserves to cover rent for students living in off-campus apartments who are facing financial hardships during COVID-19.

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Some UF parents and students have worried about paying rent for apartments in Gainesville abandoned after university officials urged students to return home in March to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“Our off-campus students were left out to dry because they’re bound to their leases with their landlords,” said Trevor Pope, student body president. “We wanted to provide those students in need with financial aid to make sure they’re able to pay rent.”

Details such as who qualifies for the funds and how much students can get have not been finalized. Pope said the organization is considering a cap amount.

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Intentionally missing from the bill is a call for lease terminations. Pope said the committee opted to support rent relief versus asking that students be released from their leases. Terminating a lease can have negative consequences, such as lowering credit scores.

The rent relief bill requires two more readings from the student government Senate, set now for May 12 and 19.

This story originally published to gainesville.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.