Last Call for 7.26.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

The national ban on evictions ends this week. Lawmakers are worried Florida’s speedy eviction process could result in thousands of renters hit by pandemic-related economic hardship being evicted if they don’t apply for federal aid by July 31.

Congressman Darren Soto held a housing roundtable Monday with Rep. Carlos G. Smith and other local leaders in Central Florida to urge people to apply for Florida’s state and local emergency rental assistance programs.

“This is something that can really help our renters. It can really help those landlords as well, especially those that are not giant corporations who need this income to make their mortgage,” Smith said.

Osceola County alone — a county that in a non-pandemic year relies heavily on tourism — has more than 1,500 evictions currently hanging in the balance that will be subject to enforcement after July 31, according to County Commissioner Viviana Janer.

Florida received about $1.4 billion out of a total of $47 billion of federal relief money from the CARES and American Rescue Plan for housing issues. The money is being distributed through programs like OUR Florida and other local eviction divergent programs.

But nationwide the federal money has been slow to make it into the hands of landlords. The treasury has sent the money to states but housing advocates, like the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, suggest some of the applications are too burdensome.

“Please, we don’t want to be on the other side of this a few weeks from now where we see thousands of families evicted because they didn’t apply, and it’s too late. It’s like with the vaccine where we have folks now who are on their deathbed dying of COVID wishing for the vaccine, but it’s too late,” Soto said.

Of the 30 programs Florida has in place to distribute the federal funding, 14 of those programs use self-attestation, which is recommended by the National Low Income Housing Coalition to encourage participation in the assistance programs.

And, ignoring rental assistance when facing eviction could really matter in a state like Florida that has a “lightning-fast” eviction process, Soto said. 

If renters fall behind on rental payments, they have just five business days after getting a legal summons to pay the landlord what is owed before facing removal from their home.

Evening Reads

Simone Biles is the face of U.S. gymnastics. Expect the future to look a lot like her.” via Emily Giambalvo of The Washington Post

Return to office hits a snag: young resisters” via Nelson D. Schwartz and Coral Murphy Marcos of The New York Times

Cities that reduced arrests for minor offenses also saw fewer police shootings” via Samuel Sinyangwe of FiveThirtyEight

How to use Wikipedia when you’re watching the Olympics” via Stephen Harrison of Slate

America’s investing boom goes far beyond Reddit bros” via Talmon Joseph Smith of The Atlantic

The Pandemic Cliff is a manufactured crisis” via Esther Wang of The New Republic

Can affirmative action survive?” via Nicholas Lemann of The New Yorker

The fastest-growing group of American evangelicals” via Meaghan Winter of The Atlantic

Who killed the Nazi on campus?” via Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone

Howard the Duck’ turns 35: Stars revisit notorious bomb amid new fervor for Marvel character” via Ryan Parker of The Hollywood Reporter

Quote of the Day

“Jax hospitals are bursting at the seams with COVID (patients), short-staffed and state says: you’re on your own.” — UF Health Jax director of infection prevention Chad Neilsen, on the rise in Northeast Florida COVID-19 cases.

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