Initial rush to enroll for Jacksonville stimulus eases as slots fill up

40,000 Duval County households will receive $1,000 cards

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The demand to signup for a $1,000 relief payment from the city of Jacksonville led to some frustration when a website and phone lines first opened for appointments Friday morning. People who were persistent did get through and more than half of the 40,000 appointments were gone in two hours.

Appointments and distribution of payment cards to eligible Duval County residents will start Monday and last for several days. Applicants must meet certain income guidelines and provide documentation before receiving a payment card.

Under guidelines recommended by Mayor Lenny Curry and unanimously approved by City Council earlier in the week, each Jacksonville household that earns under $75,000 and has documentation they’ve taken a 25% income loss due to coronavirus can apply to get the stimulus money. With $40 million of the $159 million grant was allocated to individual payments and those funds will be available to the first 40,000 people who qualify.

The distribution will be on payment cards and the money is targeted to help residents pay their mortgage, rent or utilities.

Appointments and payment distribution begin at 9 a.m. Monday. The website (jaxrelief.coj.net) and phone lines (904-630-CITY) people were told to use to sign up were initially overwhelmed. Several viewers called and emailed News4Jax to let us know they couldn’t get through.

News4Jax was also trying, and while it took more than 10 minutes and several refreshes, the website to make an application did eventually load. We closed out immediately to free up the bandwidth for people trying to get online.

“It was really slow when it opened, as to be expected. I mean, I would remind you we created the stimulus package within the last week with the federal government, had to immediately have our professionals and experts create a system that could handle it,” Curry said. “We did expect some delays, we just got the message our that people needed to be patient and we saw it kind of, the surge slowed down a bit people have been able to get their appointments.”

By late afternoon, it became easy to get through, but the only appointments left were in late May.

Applicants will need identification, documentation like a pay stub showing you were employed on Feb. 29 and know your Social Security number to be assigned an appointment, then must go in person to either the Main Library at 303 N. Laura Street or the Ed Ball Building at 214 N. Hogan St.

The city has a website that details all the criteria for people who are applying for the stimulus.

RELATED: Who will qualify?

At the library, people will come in by the Duval/Main Street entrance -- each person keeping a safe distance. From there you will go to the auditorium. Seats will be marked and again social distancing will be required. Each person will be called for their appointment and go back out to the hallway to wait in marked spots. Eventually, they will end up at an intake room in this room to be asked to show the documentation that you were employed and explain the 25% loss in income.

No proof of that will be needed, but the information will be verified. People will leave that area and wait in another area until called into another room where they will be issued a payment card worth $1,000.

Only one person per household is eligible for this payment and it’s on an honor system. But like federal taxes, the city can come back and check to make sure the person was telling the truth. Since its federal money, federal laws will apply.

Anticipating heavy demand when the jaxrelief.coj.net website goes live at 10 a.m., the city has devoted 30 IT staff to manage the servers to ensure everyone can access the page to make appointments. People who do not have access to a computer or internet access can call 904-630-CITY.

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Qualifications and instructions

  • Must be a resident of Duval County and only one person per household can apply.
  • Applicants must have documentation reflecting employment as of Feb. 29, 2020 (may show pay stubs, bank statements reflecting direct or indirect deposits or letter from employer that includes salary or typical wages earned in a two week period)
  • Since Feb. 29, 2020, have experienced a reduction in hours of work or pay reduction by 25% or more as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis
  • Keep a copy of your confirmation number and appointment time and bring it with you to your appointment.

For your appointment

  • You may park in the Main Library parking garage for free. The parking garage entrance is located at 33 West Duval Street. Or you may park in the Ed Ball parking garage for free. The garage entrance is located on Monroe Street.
  • If you need transportation, call the Jacksonville Transportation Authority at 904-265-8920
  • Wear a mask. If you don’t have one, you will receive one at the door
  • Come alone to your appointment as only one applicant per household may attend the appointment in person
  • Bring your own blue pen
  • Bring the following items for verification purposes (if you can bring copies of your documentation that will speed up the processing time):
    • Driver’s license or state ID for identification and address verification purposes
    • If you recently moved to Duval County, please bring your out of state driver’s license or state ID, PLUS any type of bill in your name with your current Duval County address on it
    • Either know or bring your Social Security number with you. We must have the number to register the payment card in your name
  • Fill out and sign a W-9 form, sign a certification that you meet all eligibility requirements and sign a certification that you have received the payment card

The city said people must NOT do the following:

  • Do not arrive on-site without an appointment
  • Do not arrive prior to your scheduled appointment time as the city cannot accommodate citizens waiting in line prior to their appointment time. You will be asked to wait in your car if you arrive early.
  • Do not bring family members or friends to your appointment – only the applicant may attend.
  • Do not come to your appointment if you are feeling sick. If you are feeling sick for any reason, call 630-CITY to reschedule.

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