WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Thousands of tenants in Palm Beach County could have nowhere to go once the statewide moratorium on evictions is lifted.
A moratorium on evictions expires at the end of August, barring another extension by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner has dire predictions of what could happen.
"I don't think that we are [facing more homelessness]," Kerner told Contact 5 in an interview. "I know that we are."
It's a frightening thought that has many people preparing for what could come.
"We're all just a couple paychecks away, really," Kerner said.
Kerner often hears from those who are worried about the looming threat of eviction.
"It's very nerve-racking for me and my family," Katrina Robinson told WPTV recently. "It's been really tough, a lot of time just hoping for the best.
"There are more people than us, a lot more people than us right now, going through what we're going through," Seth Robinson said during an interview with WPTV in June.
These are just some of the voices and stories of struggle that Kerner hears too often.
"I'm hearing, 'I don't have a job. I had a job,'" Kerner relayed. "'I haven't paid rent. I'm going to owe that rent when it comes due.'"
"I've not seen anything like this," Tequisha Myles, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, said, adding she's never "had so many tenants at risk of homelessness at one time."
Myles said in Palm Beach County alone, there's currently a backlog of more than 1,100 eviction cases specific to non-payment of rent.
"We are trying to get our staff ready for what is the avalanche that's about to happen with evictions," Myles said.
Myles told Contact 5 her office is adding three additional attorneys and launched a new program to help stop evictions, by working with landlords and tenants.
"We want to make sure that tenants get to us and get the help they need," Myles noted. "If they need rental assistance, get referral for rental assistance or if they need trying to negotiate with their landlord, we're here to do that."
Kerner said Palm Beach County can't tackle this potential crisis alone and called on the federal government to intervene.
"Congress better be ready to step up and help us in this fight, because it can turn into a pandemic beyond anything we've ever thought of," he said.