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Politics / Issues

DeSantis Extends Moratorium On Evictions, Foreclosures To Sept. 1

Gov. Ron DeSantis is pictured in Miami on July 14.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is pictured in Miami on July 14.

With a $600 weekly temporary federal unemployment benefit scheduled to end Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced he is extending his executive order that prevents housing evictions and foreclosures in Florida.

The governor’s moratorium has been extended until September 1.

Thursday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he agrees with the governor’s decision to extend the moratorium.

“While I understand this to be a strain on landlords, ensuring that those impacted financially by COVID-19 have a safe place to live until they can get back on their feet is the right thing to do,” Curry said.

The governor’s office announced the extension Wednesday night. The executive order prohibits evictions that result "from non-payment of rent by a residential tenant adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency.”

The order also clarifies that the temporary moratorium doesn't make rent and mortgage bills disappear."All payments, including tolled payments, are due when an individual is no longer adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency," it says.

Related:  Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

Zillow economist Jeff Tucker told WJCT News’ First Coast with Melissa Ross earlier this week that more than half of Jacksonville’s renters, 51%, will have to devote more than half their income to rent, assuming the federal unemployment benefit is allowed to expire at the end of July.

Congressional Republicans rolled out their proposal for a fifth wave of pandemic relief this week, but Democrats say the two sides remain far apart.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley released details showing that the supplemental payment would fall from $600 to $200 per week through September under the Republican plan.

In Florida, the state’s unemployment assistance office reported Tuesday that, from March 15 through Monday, more than 3.3 million jobless claims have been filed, of which 1.8 million claims have been paid a total of $11.96 billion.

While the governor’s executive order extension gives renters and homeowners some breathing room, Jacksonville had an affordable housing problem even before the pandemic.

According to a 2017 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there was a deficit of more than 36,000 affordable housing units in Jacksonville.

A 2019 study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council found Jacksonville had among the lowest amounts of rental units available for low-income people.

As to when more temporary federal unemployment relief might arrive, Congress is slated to begin its recess Aug. 7, leaving negotiators two weeks to agree and potentially send a bill to President Donald Trump's desk.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

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