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Attorney warns of 'avalanche of evictions' as moratorium ends

The Lord's Place offers assistance to those in need
Kim, faces eviction after moratorium ends
Posted at 9:00 AM, Jul 08, 2021

LAKE WORTH, Fla. — Inside a mobile home in Lake Worth, the clock of stability is ticking.

"It's very scary," said a resident of the home named Kim. "Yes, I am very concerned."

Kim’s has lived in the mobile home for two years. She said her sister-in-law owns the property, and she is responsible for the lot rent.

She said her first year living at the property went well.

"It was good. We were working. We were paying our bills," Kim said.

She was making money cleaning stores at the mall, but her situation changed when the pandemic started.

Kim, struggling to pay rent in Palm Beach County
Kim said despite her struggles to pay rent, she is keeping a positive outlook about the situation.

"March 23 was our last day in the mall, everything started to go," Kim said.

Bills began piling up, and she said $960 a month from Social Security wasn't enough.

After months of making partial payments, she received a notice.

"They just stick a note out there on the gate [that says] you have five days to vacate," Kim said.

"We've seen an increase of people reaching out to us because of not being able to pay rent because they are facing eviction," said Denita Jones, lead staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County.

More than nine months ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enacted a temporary federal moratorium on evictions for people impacted by the pandemic.

Denita Jones, lead staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Attorney Denita Jones speaks about the legal aspects of evictions in Palm Beach County.

Jones said the moratorium is based on non-payment of rent cases. She said the first step is delivering a signed declaration to the landlord.

"The eviction moratorium also does not stop evictions from occurring or from being filed, but what it does is that it stops the final action of the eviction from occurring," Jones said.

The moratorium was set to expire on June 30, but the CDC extended it through July 31, calling it the "final extension."

"We may see an avalanche of evictions that take place and that are finalized," Jones said.

However, there is help available.

"What we are hoping though, is that the word gets out that there is rental assistance that is available through the county’s emergency rental assistance fund," Jones said.

Palm Beach County received $45.2 million. The community services director said they have spent more than $12 million helping residents pay their bills. Kim was one of them. The Lord's Place connected her with a caseworker.

"Penny sent me the paperwork to sign and send to them and that’s when I think they finally started leaving me alone," Kim said.

The Lord's Place is helping Kim pay her lot rent, but she knows the clock is still ticking.

"Stay positive, we'll get through this. You know, we have to," Kim said.

Click here to learn more about Palm Beach County's rental assistance program.