Shevrin Jones pushes for pause on evictions, utility shutdowns during coronavirus outbreak

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Limits on public interactions are expected to slow the economy and could hurt workers.

Rep. Shevrin Jones is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to suspend evictions and utility shut-offs throughout the state as residents continue dealing with the economic effects of the new coronavirus.

Several public health recommendations have been issued aimed at curtailing public interaction. For instance, on Monday President Donald Trump recommended Americans avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for a period of 15 days.

In prior weeks, states had already begun shutting down large events. But some states and cities have also started to shut down bars and restaurants to in-person dining.

Tuesday morning, DeSantis said bars would be closing at 5 p.m. that day, then would be shut down for 30 days. DeSantis also said restaurants would be limited to 50% capacity, with patrons needing to be seated six feet apart.

Several localities are expected to go further. Miami-Dade will reportedly announce restaurants are closed to sit-down patrons Tuesday as well.

Many workers have been asked to work from home. But with an economic slowdown being forecast for the next few months, many worry the impact could be more severe: from workers losing their jobs to some stores or companies shutting down entirely.

In a letter to the Governor, Jones says that reality could lead to Floridians being unable to pay the bills amid a loss of income.

“Many businesses will lay off workers, and many workers do not have the savings to withstand a lapse in income,” Jones argued.

“That lack of economic protection is a vulnerability which may be accompanied by other factors such as physical ailments, age, lack of insurance, lack of access to affordable health care, physical or mental disability, housing insecurity, or numerous other impactful dynamics.”

Florida is under a state of emergency due to the virus’s spread. Some municipalities, such as Miami-Dade and Orange counties, have already suspended evictions for residents due to late rent payments.

But Jones wants DeSantis to ensure those protections extend to all Floridians.

“I am formally requesting your consideration, as a part of your Emergency Declaration, that you suspend utility shut offs for Florida residents at this time,” Jones said.

“Shutting off electricity and water during this time, based on an inability to pay, endangers the lives of our most vulnerable residents. Additionally, I am asking you to provide a moratorium and halt to any and all residential evictions as we monitor and work through this crisis. The people of Florida will suffer if these actions are not taken, and I urge you to have empathy for these people rather than penalize them for their economic state.”

As of Tuesday morning, Florida has 192 people who have tested positive for the virus, with 173 people of those being Florida residents. Another 558 individuals are currently being monitored.

The death rate for those who test positive for the virus has recently sat above 3%. However, those calculations do not include individuals who may have contracted the virus, but are asymptomatic and thus survive without incident. Including those individuals would lower the death rate, but it’s unclear how many such individuals there are worldwide.

Most who do show symptoms develop a fever or cough and may have trouble breathing, though they do recover. But older individuals and those with underlying health risks are susceptible to developing more severe symptoms.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


12 comments

  • Sonja Emily Fitch

    March 17, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    THANK YOU. ANOTHER COMMON GOOD SOLUTION…I DO NOT KNOW YOUR PARTY. I JUST KNOW YOU ARE LOOKING OUT FOR THE COMMON GOOD. THANK YOU

  • Mark Davisson

    March 17, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Please halt evictions…we have all lost our income. Eviction has become more of a stress than contacting the virus. Please help us!!! Never been late never missed a payment now through no fault of our own we cant pay rent. Please issue a statewide pause in evictions with a common sense time frame to get caught up after this emergency!!!

    • Diane S.

      March 22, 2020 at 5:25 am

      With this state of emergency I feel not only should the governor hold off on evicting innocent families from their home due to loss of income, it should be held off for six months so families can have time to figure out this dilemma….not only for rents but for mortgage holders like myself and to put the monthly payment on the back end of the mortgage so families can feel safe that their home is not going into foreclosure. This would be life saving. Whoever reads this please take care of yourselves and hope we all survive this pandemic.

  • Trinette

    March 17, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    So I’m curious as to what you expect the landlords to do. I still have bills to pay as well. I let someone move in, rather than sell the property, which is what I wanted to do. So now I’m without a job and you expect me to carry them as well.

    • Nikkai

      March 17, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      I feel the same way. I advised my tenants don’t pay me on the day you are scheduled to trust when the courts reopen Process Servers on the way. This promise of $1000 to people they best to use wisely if given. Nevertheless if the 1st and 3rd checks deposit I will get our rent but this call they are making is not logical at all

  • Sam

    March 18, 2020 at 8:33 am

    This should not be a blanket decision. My tenants have not paid rent since January. I have been in the eviction process for over a month now. Their failure to pay rent is not due to the virus. I own one rental property and have a family of my own, covering their cost of living is killing my ability to support my own family.

    • Raul

      March 19, 2020 at 7:47 am

      I understand & you will be paid. However, with this cry out to the governor during this crisis, is really necessary! You have a family of your own you say so join us all & help all of us get through this & we will also help you to get your rent money! Thanks & God bless us all!

  • Lani Harless

    March 18, 2020 at 10:10 am

    What about all the small businesses who cannot pay utilities. Rent and other Bills due to coronavirus issues.

  • Meghan

    March 18, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    please, we need this bad I am a single mom who gets no child support and my job just sent us home yesterday for at lease 2 week or more with no pay. I have no way of paying my bills or rent.

  • Sohn Dorsey

    March 18, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    For those that are landlords why cant you apply thectrnants sec deposit to what they owe right now and allow them the opportunity to make up the difference instead of being insensitive to the needs of the people you collect money from I’m sure most of you are probably charging some high ass rent anyway!! Where is the compassion oh yeah it comes with a price tag dont it!!!

  • Cassie L Reyes

    March 19, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    I have a 3 year old… I’m very worried about my rent and being evicted. I havnt been able to work all week due to the corona virus… they have disabled my car because I didnt have the mo ey for the payment. I just dont know what’s going to happen to us…

  • Cathy

    March 22, 2020 at 9:36 am

    We have 2 working tenants that are not paying because they know they can get away with a free place to stay for at least 3 months now. 2 months free and will take at least a month to evict them when the courts turn back on. Now how am I supposed to keep everything on the property paid? I lost my job, have health ins, kids, elderly parents to care for. Why does it fall onto me to let these loosers live in my property for free? Sure I can sue for it later but they will never end up paying. This is socialism!

Comments are closed.


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