June 1, 2020; Tampa Bay Times
As NPQ has already reported—and revisits elsewhere today—many people all across the country are facing eviction proceedings on top of job losses. Just to prove how little he cares, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida waited until last night to decide whether or not he would extend a state moratorium on evictions and utilities payments that was set to expire at midnight yesterday.
Reportedly, courts in the Sunshine State were poised to evict thousands who suffered unemployment as a result of the pandemic. Those court decisions are the last step before tenants are given 24 hours to get out.
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In Orlando, where the tourism industry has shut down almost entirely and the unemployment rate was 16.2 percent in April, State Rep. Ana Eskamani tweeted yesterday, “As of Friday, our Circuit Chief Judge told me we have 263 Orange County evictions & 83 Osceola County evictions about to move forward when the moratorium is lifted—many more will come.”
As of now, DeSantis has extended the order until July 1st, urging those in arrears to get their rent debt cleared up. How? He did not say. Florida’s unemployment system has been malfunctioning under the weight of the jobless claims, and thousands of people who have been laid off over the past three months have not yet received benefits—which surely does not help matters.
Other states vary in their actions. In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper (D) extended that state’s stay on utility shutoffs on Saturday and implemented one on evictions. But in Texas, reports the Houston Chronicle, the only statewide action to prevent evictions was one put in place by the state supreme court, and that expired on May 19th. The only thing stopping such actions from proceeding in Harris County is that the courts have not been open. The city of Houston put $15 million of the federal funds it received toward rental relief for qualified tenants. The funds were used up in 90 minutes.—Ruth McCambridge