Jacksonville NAACP calls for investigation into distribution of federal money aimed at helping renters

Call comes after federal eviction moratorium expires

Federal eviction protections have expired and now millions of Americans potentially face homelessness. The leader of the local NAACP has called for an investigation into where millions of dollars in Federal money for Jacksonville renters has gone.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Time is up for renters relying on a federal eviction moratorium.

Despite efforts from the White House, it expired over the weekend, and now, evictions can proceed in the courts.

This comes as the leader of the Jacksonville Branch NAACP calls for an investigation into where millions of dollars in federal money aimed at helping Jacksonville renters has gone.

Isaiah Rumlin, president of the Jacksonville Branch NAACP, sent a letter to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville City Council members and the United Way of Northeast Florida -- all involved in getting the money out to those who need it -- calling for a complete investigation and accountability.

“None of us want to see another pandemic as it relates to homeless,” Rumlin said.

According to the St. Johns County Clerk of Courts, since September, there have been 312 eviction filings, although it’s not clear how many had been paused by the moratorium. Clay County court officials said there are 43 eviction filings that had been on hold. In Duval County, there were a total of 786 eviction filings last month alone. Now, all of these cases can proceed in the courts.

“They are afraid they’re going to be evicted with no place to go other than the street, and I don’t think any of us want to see that,” Rumlin said.

It was reported that state of Florida has distributed only 2% of the $870 million in federal funds it has received so far to keep renters in their homes during the pandemic by paying their landlords. As of Friday, Florida’s Department of Children and Families, which is overseeing the program, had distributed only $18.3 million to about 4,300 applicants, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The city of Jacksonville, in partnership with United Way, received a total of $29 million.

In the letter, Rumlin said that despite hundreds of people being helped, there remain thousands of Jacksonville residents still waiting.

The United Way of Northeast Florida claims that the backlog is due to the need for more staff to review the applications.

“If they didn’t have enough folks on staff, then they should have hired some people to assist them,” Rumlin said.

The city told News4Jax that the United Way did hire additional staff to process the applications, which account for 7.5% of the relief money -- roughly $2 million.

The city said all of the applications submitted in March and April have gone through an initial review. Nearly 2,000 households have been helped, getting more than $5.6 million in rental assistance and $163,000 in utility assistance. Another $1.5 million has been approved and will be distributed this week.

Also, the city told News4Jax that one reason the process takes time is that the federal government set guidelines for who could get money and they have to follow those rules.