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Applicants wait for money from Fort Myers assistance program

It was touted as a lifeline for people who can’t afford to pay their bills, but applicants for assistance from the city of Fort Myers are still waiting for help.

The Fort Myers Emergency Assistance Program was supposed to get money into the hands of struggling small businesses and renters in time for them to pay May’s rent and bills, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

Ten days ago, Courtney Attardo was holding on to hope that the program would help her husband keep his small business afloat and help her pay the rent.

“We live paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

City leaders said they hoped to hand out help by the first of May, when rent and most other bills are due.

Attardo hasn’t heard a word from the city.

“Right now we’re at the point where we’re just letting things collect up because there’s not much we can do,” she said.

The same goes for Martin Drexler, who owns Wise Guys in downtown Fort Myers.

“Very frustrating. I’d just like to know if I’m going to get it or not because I am trying to proceed on,” Drexler said. “I just keep dipping into my savings to keep it going.”

When Drexler and Attardo applied for emergency assistance, the portal showed their applications as “pending.” Now? Nothing.

“It’s just the lack of communication is just scarier than all. I’d rather be denied and be like okay, what’s next on our list, what can we do, how can we figure this out, but it’s like the mystery of waiting what’s pending,” Attardo said.

The city said the community development division is still processing the more than 3,000 applications, but that’s little reassurance to those who hoped Fort Myers might provide a financial lifeline in these difficult economic times.

WINK News reached out to the Fort Myers mayor, city manager and spokeswoman for any indication on when the city might let applicants know if they’ll get any assistance. No one has gotten back to her.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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