A federal decision to overturn the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium that protected renters during the COVID-19 pandemic has stirred concern among Tampa Bay-area renters struggling to make ends meet.
"It is very, very heartbreaking to hear the people talking on the phone to us with their emotions raw, having their entire lives ripped out from under them through no cause of their own and no fault of their own," said William Pena Wells, staff attorney at Gulfcoast Legal Services.
Wells has helped struggling renters stay in their homes amid the pandemic and has a concern about Wednesday’s ruling.
"If it were to be struck down, [it] would mean that everyone who is taking these protections would have no protection from being evicted," he said. "The landlords could go right ahead and evict them during the pandemic, so the public health aspect of that would be ignored."
However, because the Department of Justice has already started the appeals process, and Pena Wells says this means a judge could put the decision on hold as the appeal moves forward.
"It's likely that a stay would be granted while the appeal goes forward, and so everything is unsettled now, but there is a likelihood that nothing will change immediately," said Pena Wells.
The following counties offer resources for renters looking for financial assistance to stay in their homes:
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