TAMPA, Fla. — As the first of the month looms, rent is due for millions of people.
But July 1st is also the day Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium expires. With many families scrambling to avoid evictions and foreclosures, they are asking the governor for action.
"I'm a homeowner in Broward county and I've never been late on a payment until the pandemic forced my company to furlough employees, this is the first time I can't pay in my life and now I'm in fear of becoming homeless," one resident said.
On Thursday, June 25, housing advocates from across Florida hosted a meeting demanding DeSantis act boldly to protect Floridians impacted by COVID-19, before mass evictions and foreclosures start happening.
"Whatever can be done we need it done now. Not only extending the moratorium but true financial relief," landlord Akua Scott said.
Representative Diane Hart says affordable housing was a growing problem throughout Florida before the pandemic hit and now the demand for Floridians needing mortgage and rental support has multiplied by 10. She says the solution requires lawmakers to act.
"My county has received a large amount of money from the CARES act," Hart said, "We are calling on all mayors and commissioners in the state to act. We know everyone's municipalities are set up differently but they need to take those dollars and put them towards rental and mortgage programs. The money is there but it's useless unless they act correctly with it."
Lawyer Alana Greer echoes that sentiment saying extending the moratorium is a short term fix but Floridians need long term solutions. She says despite the extended moratorium meant to protect people she knows of more than 2,000 eviction notices still served during the moratorium.
"It's clear the governor has the power to take bold action to make a clear path to extend the moratorium but he should also be taking action in rent and mortgage relief," Greer said.
In Tampa Bay, there are resources that can help residents, like the One Tampa fund and United Way. You can also apply for your county's relief programs if you qualify.
Greer says it's time for lawmakers, county and city leaders to listen to the needs of their constituents.
"It's clear that our community knows what resources we need. But we need lawmaker's actions to put those resources to use and ensure Floridians are not displaced in a pandemic and housing crisis at the same time," Greer said.
Due to public pressure, Governor DeSantis extended the moratorium twice for statewide evictions and foreclosures. But families' fates are again hanging by a thread as the moratorium is set to expire July 1, 2020.
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