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Palm Beach County prepares for possible avalanche of evictions after Supreme Court ruling

'It was like a gut punch,' attorney for Legal Aid Society says
Posted at 4:08 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 18:26:14-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that evictions can resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Imposed in early August, the current moratorium was due to expire in early October.

It was challenged by a group of landlords who argued that the CDC had no authority to impose those kinds of restrictions on its own.

Landlords claim they have been losing as much as $19 billion a month.

Roughly 3.5 million people in the United States said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.

On Datura Street in downtown West Palm Beach Friday, the workload inside the Palm Beach County Community Services office exploded following the Supreme Court's ruling.

James Green, Palm Beach County Community Services
James Green explains the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling on his office and Palm Beach County.

"We've already been working overtime, now we just are going to have to continue to push harder," said James Green, the director of the department. "The effect it's going to have is certainly significant."

Green said since March his office has made more than $26 million in payments to residents for rent and utility assistance. This money has helped keep families in their homes, but now there is fear in Palm Beach County.

"I just don't want anyone to be on the streets," said Tequisha Myles, the supervising attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. "It was like a gut punch."

Tequisha Myles, Legal Aid Society attorney
Tequisha Myles says both the landlord and tenant can find common ground as the eviction moratorium comes to an end.

They are now preparing for a possible avalanche of evictions with the moratorium coming to an end.

Cases and mediations will increase and tenants will be faced with paying past due rent or new moving costs.

"I think that it's something we have to get out to the community. The tenant needs a place to go. The landlord needs to be made whole, and we have a system where both parties can get what they want," Myles said.

The Community Services Office said those in need of assistance can go to any county library to apply in person or apply online through its portal for help.

Housing Help For Residents

Palm Beach County
Applications are being accepted for the rental assistance program in Palm Beach County. 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.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County offers free legal assistance. They can be reached at 561-655-8944 Ext. 328

St. Lucie County
Rental assistance is also still available for residents in St. Lucie County as well.

The county's 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.

Martin County
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 rmiller@ircgov.com.