WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Saved for another month, thousands of families have more time before the CDC's federal eviction moratorium expires July 31.
This came after the White House extended the previous moratorium which was set to expire June 30.
However, this extension is intended to be the last one.
According to the Florida Office of State Courts, as of March 2020 more than 100,000 evictions have been filed across the state.
Daniel Rollins was one of those plaintiffs in Palm Beach County who faced an eviction complaint in early 2021.
He said at the time, he was afraid to think of what would happen to him and his four-legged best friends, Rocky & Rambo, if he was out on the street.
"They always kept my calm through everything. They're my best friends," said Rollins, who missed rent payments during the pandemic. "I lost work and everything just went down the drain from there."
To understand how more than 1,800 evictions have been filed in Palm Beach County, even with the CDC's federal moratorium on evictions in place, you must understand how we got here, including the pre-pandemic affordable housing crisis nationwide.
"For every 10 of the lowest income families, we had fewer than four apartments available and affordable to them, and we had nearly 10 million renter households paying at least half of their income towards rent," said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Yentel said millions of families were already one financial shock away from missing rent and facing eviction. COVID-19, she says, became that financial shock.
Local and state governments put their own eviction moratoriums in place in 2020, but by summer and fall most, including Florida's moratorium, had expired.
"Slowing and stopping evictions during the pandemic was essential to our country's ability to contain the pandemic," Yentel added.
Because it was a public health measure, the Trump administration through the CDC issued a moratorium on evictions, but it only protected tenants from non-payment evictions.
It doesn't stop evictions from being filed, it just stopped them from being finalized.
"The order allows for the landlords and courts to take all the steps in the eviction process up to physically removing somebody from their homes, which is prohibited under the order," Yentel said. "It means that when the moratorium expires in some places that final act of physically removing people from their homes may happen very quickly."
Rollins' eviction was already moving through the court system, and he did something he feels many people in his position are afraid to do.
"Listen, I was ashamed for a really long time and scared to ask for help, but when I came to The Lord's Place they showed me a different way," Rollins said.
The Lord's Place, a nonprofit organization that aims to break the cycle of homelessness in Palm Beach County, helped Rollins get into a new apartment.
He's working again and back on his feet, but the director of homeless outreach at The Lord's Place says hundreds are calling every day looking for help.
"The people that are calling in now are people that have never touched the homeless system before," Jennifer Sellars, director of Homeless Outreach at The Lord's Place.
Palm Beach County received $45 million for rental assistance emergency services and is issuing those funds through September. Tenants must meet eligibility for emergency rental assistance.
Rollins said he sought help to keep a roof over his head and his best pets.
"Those are my buddies," Rollins said. "I couldn't let them go nowhere."
For a long time, Rollins was worried about what he might lose, now he’s looking ahead to what he can have.
Aside from rental assistance, Palm Beach County also has resources available for other issues related to loss of income during the pandemic including help paying utility bills.
For assistance filling out any of the applications, visit a Palm Beach County library for help.
Community organizations who want to invite the Emergency Rental Assistance mobile unit to their community to help residents who need access to a computer can do so by going to the ERA website.
If approved, funds for missed rent can be received by the property owner/landlord as early as three to six weeks after the application is approved.
The PBC Legal Aid Society is also involved in helping tenants with eviction cases.
Residents who are not directly impacted by the eviction moratorium are still encouraged by The Lord's Place to take action. They have asked local and state legislators to support:
- $3.5 billion in overall funding for HUD's homeless assistance grants in next year’s appropriations bill
- $30.4 billion in next year's appropriation bill for the tenant-based rental assistance account, helping people afford a place to live and moving more families out of poverty
- The Biden administration's $318 billion commitment to preserving and constructing affordable housing, as outlined in the American Jobs Plan and related proposals
Visit the Lord's Place website for more information on prevention services.