TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Housing reform activists called Thursday for Gov. Ron DeSantis to extend the state's moratorium on evictions and foreclosures by 90 days, an action they said would help relieve the mounting anxiety shared by thousands of Floridians at risk of being booted from their homes amid the coronavirus crisis.
What You Need To Know
- Over 2,600 evictions petitions filed by Florida landlords during moratorium
- Activists also calling for forgiveness programs for renters, homeowners
- Industry groups calling instead for more government support, vouchers or direct payments to banks
- Florida will spend $250 million in federal CARES act funding on rental, housing assistance
The governor has twice extended the moratorium, which he implemented during the early days of the crisis as millions of people were losing their jobs. His latest extension is set to expire at the end of the month.
"Governor DeSantis, please act," Alana Greer of the Florida Housing Justice Alliance told a virtual round table. "We need more than a week or a last-minute call at the eleventh hour. What we need is bold action for a 90-day or longer eviction moratorium."
Even during the moratorium, more than 2,600 eviction petitions have been filed by Florida landlords. Many of them have been approved by judges, meaning if the moratorium were to expire, immediate action could be taken to evict tenants who have fallen behind on their rent.
The activists also pressured state leaders to create forgiveness programs for tenants and homeowners who haven't been able to pay their rent and mortgages during the pandemic. Similar to debt forgiveness arrangements whereby creditors accept partial payment of a delinquent customer's total debt, banks and landlords would be compelled to write off a percentage of housing-related back payments.
But industry groups oppose such sweeping forgiveness proposals. Instead, they've called for additional government housing support, either in the form of vouchers given to tenants and homeowners or as direct payments to banks and landlords.
Late Thursday, DeSantis announced the state would be spending $250 million in federal CARES Act funds on rental and mortgage assistance. Much of the money will flow to local housing agencies, with counties experiencing the highest levels of unemployment receiving at the largest disbursements.