Published: Aug 05, 2014 3:40 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 05, 2014 6:12 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Financially strapped homeowners in Cape Coral can now turn to the city for help in paying their fire service assessment. The city council voted to expand its hardship deferral program. 

It allows those who qualify to defer charges, such as the utilities expansion project and other programs. In return, the city will place a lien on the property.

The utility expansion project is on the list of items the city will pay for, if you qualify for its hardship deferral program. City council is now adding the city's fire service assessment fee to the list.

Some Cape Coral residents support the move. "If it helps somebody, then yes, we will agree with that," said one resident.

"A lot of times there are people out there that can't afford it. If they can't, than I think they should do something on it," said another.

You have to first quality to be accepted. You must live full time on the property, have homestead exemption in place, be a full time resident of the city, have paid your taxes in full, an have no pending foreclosure actions on the property.

WINK News discovered many people have already taken advantage of the program.
44 properties are on the list, adding up to $70,697.40.

That money comes out of the city's general fund.

"I understand they are trying to defer it. Still, they owe it they might as well pay it," said Cape Coral resident Armond Sikes.

"I don't agree with the assessment. I think you need to pay the tax, and I don't think it's a good idea for the city to bankroll people," said Cape Coral resident John Steller.

The city gets its money back based on the agreement with the homeowner, and when they are able to pay it back. Or, if the property is sold, refinanced, or there is a transfer of title.

This is an annual program, so this year, it's too late to apply. You can do so, starting next year, and your deadline is April 15th.

For more information on how to quality, and apply, click here.