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Eviction filings on the rise in Hillsborough County amid pandemic

New data shows eviction cases are at their highest level since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The holidays are near, and it’s that time of year when most people want to be home spending time with our families. 

However, for a growing number of people in Hillsborough County, that's not an option. New data shows eviction cases are at their highest level since the pandemic started.

"The numbers lately have really shot up for the eviction cases,” said Doug Bakke of the Hillsborough County Clerk’s Office. "A lot of folks are out of employment. 

"You know, it's really reaching out to those resources that are available to help people pay their rent, pay their light bill, pay their utility so they're not put out on the street."

Yochebed Israel of Tampa was very close to being homeless. Before the pandemic, money was tight, so she was already on the brink of eviction. But once the pandemic hit, she and her daughter contracted COVID-19 and it put her out of work for months, and eviction was imminent.

"The eviction memorandum kind of saved our butts for a little bit. But then again, they couldn't wait for the day after the memorandum was lifted, so that they can go down to Hillsborough and put in a request to be evicted,” Israel said.

The certified nursing assistant said this all came from her landlord during the federal ban on evictions.

"I could describe the stress, but then it still wouldn't serve any justice,” said Israel.

It's stress thousands of people in Hillsborough County are feeling now that landlords are once again legally allowed to file for evictions.

Before the pandemic, Hillsborough County eviction filings peaked in mid-February at 326 filings. Numbers stayed low through the spring and summer when the moratorium was in place. But now, landlords are filing at their highest level since the pandemic started. 

There were 305 eviction cases filed in the last week alone.

Israel was eventually able to get help and a new home, but she worries about those who are not as fortunate.

"Me and my family, we were extremely blessed but are still concerned about those who aren't, and those who are on the brink of not knowing what to do and, you know, and having their stuff set out on the street. That's barbaric,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an eviction moratorium through Dec. 31 that applies to those who have exhausted resources for government assistance and make less than $99,000 in 2020. Other requirements apply.

If you are facing eviction in Hillsborough County and need help, reach out to Bay Area Legal Services, apply for county rental and housing assistance or call 2-1-1.

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