Rep. Shevrin Jones is pushing Gov. Ron DeSantis to waive mortgage and rent payments for three months as Floridians deal with the effects of an economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Jones, a West Park Democrat, called on DeSantis earlier this week to temporarily pause evictions and utility shutdowns. Now, he’s asking for those mortgage and rent payments to be suspended for 90 days, along with all late fees and other penalties for nonpayment.
“Gov. DeSantis has the power to deliver financial relief for Floridians via executive order and should take decisive action quickly, just as other governors across the country have done. I encourage the Governor to direct all state agencies to suspend fee collection for 90 days,” Jones said.
“This public health crisis is already putting Floridians under significant economic stress at a time when most Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency. All things considered, the Governor and Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz have been communicative as they have taken steps to ensure Floridians are healthy and safe. Nevertheless, we must continue to alleviate the burden weighing on families in every corner of Florida because lives are literally on the line.”
Jones is correct that Florida would not be the only state to make such a move. This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York also paused those payments and fees for 90 days.
DeSantis has still not enacted a statewide eviction moratorium, though he said Thursday he was considering such a move.
But following Jones’ request, those evictions were halted in Jones’ home county of Broward courtesy of a judicial mandate. Other counties, such as Miami-Dade and Orange, had already suspended evictions for residents due to late rent payments.
Due to social distancing efforts, 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.
A Florida Politics analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data finds 1,189,000 Florida workers could be in jobs directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including fast-food workers, maids, bartenders, movie projectionists, and amusement and recreation attendants.
That is about 14% of the 8.6 million jobs in Florida in May 2018, the most recent BLS data available that breaks down America’s workforce by state and more than 750 specific occupations.
Hundreds of thousands more workers are in other sectors impacted by the shutdowns, but of uncertain impact for the moment, such as teachers, drivers, and recreation workers. They were not included in the Florida Politics estimate of directly impacted jobs.
Job losses are already mounting in the hotel industry — data released Thursday by the American Hotel & Lodging Association shows nearly 400,000 job cuts in the Florida hospitality industry so far.