TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pointing to a move by the federal government to halt evictions, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday let expire an executive order aimed at limiting evictions and foreclosures.
DeSantis on Aug. 31 approved a one-month extension of an order to prevent foreclosures and evictions involving residents “adversely” affected by COVID-19. That order made clear foreclosures and evictions could move forward in circumstances unrelated to the pandemic, such as for non-payment of rent.
But on Sept. 4, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order to halt evictions through the end of the year “to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”
In a memo Wednesday, DeSantis said he was allowing his executive order to expire to avoid confusion.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently enacted a nationwide residential evictions order that provides federal eviction relief to persons who submit a valid declaration to their landlord regarding their inability to pay rent,” the DeSantis memo said. “(DeSantis') Executive Order 20-211 had provided a limited, one-month extension of state eviction relief to persons affected by the COVID-19 emergency. Executive Order 20-211 pertaining to the state’s mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief was permitted to expire to avoid any confusion over whether the CDC’s evictions order should apply in a particular circumstance.”
Bertisha Combs with the New Florida Majority said more than 660,000 Florida residents or renters are at threat of eviction right now, and the only way that they’re covered at the moment is the CDC order.
The Florida Apartment Association is pushing back on the eviction protections, telling Capitol News Service in a statement, “The CDC order fails to address the underlying issue, which is the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The Florida Apartment Association urges local, state, and federal policymakers to provide rent relief to those in need, which in turn will support multifamily housing operators who depend on this income to be able to provide quality rental housing for Florida’s 2.8 million apartment residents.”
Floridians also face power cutoffs
In addition to the expiration of the state’s eviction moratorium, one of the state’s largest energy providers is moving forward with power cutoffs.
“This is an issue of human rights and dignity. It’s impossible to live in Florida without power,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani.
Florida Power & Light plans to resume cutoffs this month for those who have fallen behind on their bill.
“There are 258,000 households and businesses facing that situation,” said Aliki Moncrief with Florida Conservation Voters.
Progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers are hoping the governor will extend eviction protections and the Public Service Commission will stop power from being shut off cut until June 2021.
“Really it is in the public services' hands right now and the governor’s hands. The other tools they’ve denied us constitutionally because they will not allow legislators back in to do legislative work,” said state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez.
The Public Service Commission has been petitioned by the legal organization Earth Justice to stop power cutoffs, but no decision has been made yet.