With eviction moratorium in jeopardy, Florida launches pandemic rental assistance program
Evictions get the green light to continue in Escambia County, Image via AP.

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Advocates say rental assistance could be the last line of defense for those facing eviction.

Florida is launching its rental assistance program through the Department of Children and Families days after a judge ruled the federal eviction moratorium unconstitutional.

DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris announced Monday that her office launched OUR Florida, the emergency rental assistance program to benefit those affected by the pandemic’s economic impact. The U.S. Treasury Department gave Florida $1.4 billion in emergency rental assistance funds Gov. Ron DeSantis announced earlier this year, $800 million of which the state will administer directly.

“I would like to thank Gov. DeSantis for his leadership as we continue to work together to help our families become economically self-sufficient,” Harris said. “Low-income families are on the verge of homelessness, and this program will provide a safety net to keep families stable and in their homes.”

OUR Florida, short for Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance, will prioritize renters with household incomes at or below 50% of a city or county’s area median income and families who have experienced unemployment within the past 90 days. However, the program is available to certain renters whose incomes are at or below 80% of the median level.

Floridians must be at risk of losing their home or be living in unstable or unhealthy conditions to qualify. They must also have qualified for unemployment, experienced a loss of income, incurred significant costs or faced financial hardship because of the pandemic.

DCF partnered with Tidal Basin, a disaster and recovery consulting firm, to administer the program.

The Treasury Department directly gave cities and counties with populations greater than 200,000 the remaining $529 million of the $1.4 billion distribution.

In October, DeSantis allowed a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to lapse after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created its own eviction moratorium. However, a federal judge on Wednesday ruled those protections, set to expire June 30, unconstitutional. For now, the moratorium remains after an appeal from the Justice Department.

Without the moratorium, advocates say, the only thing standing between many tenants and eviction is the nearly $50 billion allocated by Congress for rental assistance. Advocates say very few tenants have received any of the money, and they fear it won’t get to the neediest people in time if the moratorium is scrapped.

Visit OURFlorida.com for details on qualifying.

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Content from The Associated Press was used in this post.

Renzo Downey

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 [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


2 comments

  • PeterH

    May 11, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    Here in South Florida there are plenty of open jobs in the hospitality industry. Restaurant and hotel workers should get back in the game NOW. If employees wait too long ….. they’ll get stuck with the less desirable jobs.

    Employers should encourage vaccine. I ask servers and bus staff if they’re vaccinated…. 95% say “no!” We’ll never get back to normal if we don’t get vaccinated!

    • ll

      May 12, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      Well I don’t blame them if restaurants are understaffed. Vaccine takes time plus may put you out of commission…

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