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Sen. Audrey Gibson blasts the failures in the Governor's Office.

Influence

Florida lawmaker wants evictions delayed another month

The current moratorium ends June 2.

Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to extend the ban on foreclosures and evictions an additional month, suspending displacements until July.

Earlier this month, the Governor extended a previous order that gave housing security to people facing economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. But that extension only runs through June 2, now a week away.

Gibson, the upper house’s Minority Leader, asked DeSantis in a letter sent to his office Wednesday to extend that relief until July 1.

“The conditions which precipitated this order are no less precarious today; in fact, in many ways, they have worsened,” she wrote. “Unemployment in Florida has risen to 12.9%, and in some counties, even higher. At the same time, many unemployed Floridians continue to await full unemployment compensation from state and federal sources, if they are getting it at all, preventing many of them from making timely rent or mortgage payments.”

For many, the struggle has been compounded by the state’s unemployment system, which was not unable to keep pace with the number of claims flowing in earlier in the pandemic. And for those who still haven’t been fully paid what they’re owed, getting on the phone with a customer service representative has been a continuing problem.

That’s left many Floridians unable to pay the bills.

The Florida Supreme Court had previously ordered a pause on evictions and foreclosures through April 17.

Democrats had pressed for the initial order and again an extension. In Congress, a similar move on a national level had bipartisan support, including from former Gov. and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

The Department of Economic Opportunity has paid a total of $3.5 billion to 1 million claimants during the pandemic crisis. Of the 1.9 million confirmed unique submitted claims, 1.6 million have been processed.

Most monthly obligations have leniency. Major Florida utility companies and telecommunications providers have pledged not to cut off service due to nonpayment during the pandemic.

But that hasn’t stopped all landlords from threatening to kick out tenants.

“I’m not sure you’re going to rent out a lot of new places anyways, but you never know how people are going to act,” DeSantis said when he announced the original order.

With economic activity still suppressed as the state continues its phased economic reopening, Gibson asked the Governor to forestall legal action against struggling Floridians.

“As our state continues to navigate its way toward a full reopening, I urge you to extend a lifeline to Floridians facing potential homelessness due to this unprecedented crisis,” she said.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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