TAMPA, FL – While lawmakers in Tallahassee are battling an insurance crisis in a state that is not on a special agenda this week, the crisis in affordable housing in Florida is rapidly intensifying.
In the wake of this crisis, there is growing concern that the termination of the state rental assistance program known as “Our Florida” will soon be accompanied by an increase in new applications for evictions.
Matilda Dameus of Palm Beach County is still recovering after the eviction.
In November, her landlord filed for her eviction after claiming she owed thousands of dollars in rent.
While Dameus claims her landlord did not tell her she owed money for the missing weeks, just a year after she moved, Dameus was approved to fund assistance from “Our Florida“The program paid her landlord $ 13,000 for rent and future payments.
However, Dameus was evicted, leaving the single mother to live with the scar of eviction for the next seven years.
“If another owner or another owner sees that you have an eviction, it’s essentially like you’re a black sheep. It’s like, no, I don’t want to deal with you, “she said.” I don’t care what kind of story it is. “
The problems caused by eviction applications are not new. However, more attention was paid after the aftermath of the COVID pandemic led to the fact that more Florida residents first faced eviction.
In addition, rising rents make it much harder for evicted tenants to abandon these cases.
“As much as we want landlords to obviously receive rent and continue to maintain apartments, tenants also need housing. And so if COVID-19 is a factor in keeping these evictions on record, I would say it’s unfair. ” Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society said Amy Petway’s lawyer
Pettway represented Dameus and is currently representing other clients facing eviction for the first time. She believes some evicted tenants should be able to close their evictions from the public once cases are resolved or closed and landlords are cured.
“Right now we see that when an eviction happens and a tenant applies for another house or another apartment, the landlord automatically looks at that eviction and says,‘ Oh, you know, you have no right, ’” Petuway said.
While individual judges may agree to cancel the tenant’s eviction, most judges do not because proving that it is necessary is a heavy burden for tenants.
“Damage is inflicted when an application is made,” Bay Area Legal Services This was announced by lawyer Tim Differ.
His organization in Tampa Bay is also overcrowded with tenants who are facing eviction for the first time and the consequences that come with it, even if the case is resolved or terminated.
“It’s the equivalent of being arrested or accused of something, but not convicted,” he said. “That’s how a landlord could potentially view this.”
Earlier this year, bill introduced would allow some tenants engaged in the first eviction to hide their eviction from the public. While the bill passed in the House of Representatives, it did not go anywhere in the Senate.
It is unknown how many evictions were filed in Florida. There is no single database that tracks information. It is also unknown how many of these statements will eventually be settled or rejected.
“We believe that it is very important for housing providers to have access to a variety of information when assessing a potential resident,” said the director. Government Affairs for the Florida Housing Association said Amanda White.
White disputes popular belief that landlords view a single application as a reason to reject a potential new customer.
“Simply filing an eviction application is usually not a concern,” she said. “For example, a housing provider is really looking for repeat applications or cases where a resident owes a significant amount of money to a previous housing provider.”
White also said landlords continue to work with tenants to provide housing assistance, and evictions are always a “last resort”.
Dameus found a new place, but not first, without paying more to move and move on.
“You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul to make sure Paul is paid so you can move,” she said. “It just seems unnecessary.”
Tenants who find it difficult to pay rent are encouraged to seek help immediately. Although the Our Florida program is over, many local authorities are still offering rental assistance programs.