WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is taking action to help tenants with eviction cases moving through the court system.
More than 1,800 evictions have been filed in the county and mediators are working to help those tenants who are being evicted for non-payment related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 450 families in Palm Beach County are breathing a sigh of relief. Their eviction cases were intercepted by the community services department and mediated.
"We're constantly monitoring what's happening with the courts. Our initial goal is to move as far upstream to prevent evictions from being filed, but in the event that they are filed, we are working with the courts to identify those who have been impacted financially due to COVID-19," said James Green, director of Palm Beach County Community Services Department.
Green said the Legal Aid Society steps in to help mediate cases, working with landlords to come up with a solution.
"We consider our property owners, our partners and we want to work with them and try to be as flexible as possible to make sure that they are made whole, and to make sure that families are not entering our homeless system," Green said.
The county received a $45.2 million allocation to offer emergency rental assistance. Eligible tenants can get missed rent payments awarded to their landlords.
"Property owners that work with us are not able to evict tenants for months that we have paid them for, and so typically there is an agreement that we make with them to protect the tenant," added Green.
Green said this program continues to prevent homelessness.
"Many tenants have called, and they are just grateful. If you can just imagine facing eviction, you have children, you've gone through a tremendous number of things in this pandemic, and here you are thinking you're going to be kicked out on the streets," Green said.
Applications are being accepted for the rental assistance program. Households that have not lost income due to COVID-19 may still be eligible for electric and utility assistance. You can apply by going to rentalassistancepbc.org.
St. Lucie County
Rental assistance is also still available for residents in St. Lucie County as well.
The county community services department has helped more than 60 families with nearly $400,000 in funding through the emergency rental assistance (ERA) and eviction diversion program.
The ERA program provides up to 12 months of funds that can be used for past due rent, current rent or up to three months of future rent.
For more information about these programs, who qualifies and how to apply visit www.recoverstlucie.org.
Rental and utility assistance in Martin County is being facilitated through the Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance (OUR) Florida Program.
OUR Florida provides renters who qualify with relief on unpaid rent and utility bills, and supports landlords and utilities with relief on lost revenue to support their continued recovery.
The county says the program focuses on low-income renters whose household income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which varies by county. The program will prioritize renters with income at or below 50% AMI and/or families who have experienced unemployment within the past 90 days.
Martin County's Housing Program works to meet the housing needs of the low, and moderate-income households in the county. Call (772) 288-5456 to learn more about assistance.
Indian River County
The Housing and Rental Assistance office in Indian River County is located at 1800 27th St., Building B, in Vero Beach.
Office hours are Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Residents with questions about housing and rental assistance should call (772) 226-4360 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.