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New eviction moratorium targets renters in COVID hotspots

It’s some last-minute hope for renters who are facing eviction.
It’s some last-minute hope for renters who are facing eviction.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s some last-minute hope for renters who are facing eviction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday announced a 60-day moratorium on residential eviction in areas where COVID-19 is surging.

But, Michael Brennan, who lives in Jacksonville, knows his mom Jackie is running out of time

“I’m probably more stressed than her because that’s my mom,” said Brennan.

Brennan’s sister, who was the main caregiver for their mother, recently died from Lupus.

“She was the main breadwinner there and she supplied most of the income, and now my mom’s faced with trying to afford the rent and she can’t,” Brennan said.

Two days ago, Brennan’s mom -- a 71-year-old disabled Army veteran -- was handed an eviction notice saying she needed to be out in 15 days.

“I don’t feel good at all. I don’t think anyone would feel good if their mom was put out in the streets in 13 days with nowhere to go,” explained Brennan.

The CDC’s most recent announcement that the eviction moratorium was extended bought Brennan’s mom some more time, but he says because of COVID, they can only get onto waiting lists for affordable housing.

So, they applied to the OurFlorida rental assistance program through the state, but are still waiting for money.

The Department of Children and Families received $871 million as part of the emergency rental assistance program to administer statewide.

OurFlorida has paid out $22.5 million.

The Department of Children and Families says one reason the money is taking so long to process is because of federal mandates as to how the money can be distributed. It said in a statement:

”The federal government required that ERA programs have a two-party application process, which causes delays because the landlord must verify the information provided by the tenant. The federal government also requires that states provide a notification period to landlords whose tenants applied for rental assistance. Florida requested a waiver from this requirement, to ensure faster payments of past rents, and was denied.”

The Tuesday announcement was a reversal for the Biden administration, which allowed an earlier moratorium to lapse over the weekend after saying a Supreme Court ruling prevented an extension.

Administration officials had previously said a Supreme Court ruling stopped them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing. When the court allowed the eviction ban to remain in place through the end of July by a 5-4 vote, one justice in the majority, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote that Congress would have to act to extend it further.

But on Tuesday, the CDC cited the slow pace of state and local governments disbursing housing aid as justification for the new moratorium.

Aside from the moratorium, Biden has insisted that federal money is available — some $47 billion previously approved during the pandemic — that needs to get out the door to help renters and landlords.

About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.