MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Experts say it’s time for local governments and courts to protect struggling tenants who face the threat of eviction without federal protection.
Vulnerable renters will no longer be shielded from eviction starting Saturday. That is unless the Democrats in Congress pass a bill to restore the nationwide ban on evictions that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put in place late last year.
This all concerns Ned Murray, the director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County. He and other experts are worried about the evictions that landlords have already filed in Miami-Dade courts.
“These renters many of which work in our service sector economy just don’t have the money to pay their rent or their past rent so we are going to have an avalanche of evictions,” Murray said.
This comes as public health officials believe the spread of the Delta variant is fueling a new surge of COVID cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The area was already struggling with a lack of affordable housing before the pandemic and a flood of new residents from states like New York have decreased inventory and increased rents.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a housing crisis ... The crisis may be most urgent for renters, millions of whom are behind on rent ... women and people of color will be disproportionately affected,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote in a June 24 open letter asking state courts to keep eviction cases out of the courts.
Murray said the most important steps to prevent homelessness without protections for tenants have to be taken at the local level.
“The issue itself of affordable housing is so great, it has become a national issue but South Florida has become almost a poster child for that so it’s going to take local governments to take real action,” Murray said.
Gupta suggested local courts need to require landlords to apply for rental assistance before filing for eviction. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said there is still aid for landlords and tenants in need through the emergency rental assistance program. She said it has helped about 3,500 families since March.
“We have been very aggressive about getting these funds out,” Levine Cava said. “We have spent about 60% of the dollars, which means we are on track to get even more money from the federal government to assist.”
As parents worry about potential evictions, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that unless there is a “clear and specific” authorization from the U.S. Congress there won’t be any more extensions on the eviction moratorium.
Many landlords oppose the moratorium. The National Apartment Association filed a lawsuit earlier this week in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to recover damages on behalf of rental housing providers that have suffered severe economic losses under the eviction moratorium.
Miami-Dade program: Eligibility & Requirements
- You must be a Miami-Dade resident
- You are unable to pay your full rent as a result of a COVID-19 caused financial hardship
- Your current household income must not exceed 80 percent of annual Area Median Income (AMI) for Miami-Dade County One person in the household: maximum AMI is $50,650 Two people in household: maximum AMI is $57,850 Three people in household: maximum AMI is $65,100 Four people in household: maximum AMI is $72,300 Five people in household: maximum AMI is $78,100 Six people in household: maximum AMI is $83,900 Seven people in household: maximum AMI is $89,700 Eight people in household: maximum AMI is $95,450
- There must be an executed lease between you and the property owner or landlord
- You must certify that your household does not receive any other subsidy that is not wholly covered by a subsidized housing program
Related links: More information on rental assistance programs