Several activist groups are pushing Gov. Ron DeSantis to take multiple statewide actions in light of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, including suspending all mortgage, rent and small business payments.
Collectively dubbed the “Florida Housing Justice Alliance” (FHJA), those groups are asking for the payments to be suspended through the period of Florida’s state of emergency, plus an additional 30 days.
The alliance is made up of several groups including SEIU Florida, New Florida Majority, MHAction, Organize Florida, the Community Justice Project and others.
“My neighbors in my manufactured home community are mostly elderly people who rely on social security,” said Denise Crisci of MHAction.
“If they can’t pay their rent and get evicted, they have nowhere to go, no one to rely on. And it’s not just seniors. My daughter and son in law are home with their four kids. It was already hard for them to afford rent. Now, as their work stops with this crisis, they won’t be able to make ends meet. We urgently need Gov. DeSantis to take these actions for Florida’s seniors and families who will be devastated without action.”
The alliance is calling on the Governor to suspend all evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs for the same duration as well. DeSantis has said he would consider such a moratorium.
The FHJA also wants DeSantis to make direct payments to residents and to convert unused hotels, schools and stadiums into shelters for the homeless.
“Florida was already facing an affordable housing crisis across the state,” said Alana Greer, a Co-Director of the Community Justice Project.
“Before the pandemic, almost 30,000 people were experiencing homelessness on any given night, and 1.8 million Florida families were rent-burdened — essentially living just a paycheck away from losing their homes. The economic impact of this is already dramatically increasing those numbers.”
But the FHJA is seeking for uniformity statewide as residents worry about the effects social distancing efforts could have on the economy during the ensuing months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare that no matter what we look like, where we live, or what’s in our wallets, our health and security depend on that of our neighbors,” said Debbie Soto, Board President of Organize Florida.
“We are all being told to ‘socially distance’ and ‘stay home’ in order to avoid a systemic public health disaster, but for hundreds of families in every community in Florida, there is no home to return to. Housing security is essential as our communities face the coronavirus pandemic.”