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Legal Services Gearing Up As Eviction Moratorium Expires

8-2 Evictions.mp3
University Area Community Development Corp.
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As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

A group of non-profits in Tampa is gearing up to help renters know their legal rights as thousands could lose their homes after a federal moratorium on evictions ended over the weekend.

University Area Community Development Corporation — a public/private partnership — has teamed up with United Way and Bay Area Legal Services.

CEO Sarah Combs says they launched an "eviction defense program" to provide legal advice.

"Knowing that when this moratorium was lifted, that we were going to see families coming in, in waves, based on the feedback that we've been getting from the community," Combs said. "So we launched our eviction defense program about three months, and are just getting ready for today."

Combs said it's too soon to know how many people will take advantage of the program. She said since March of 2020, landlords in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have filed more than 15,000 evictions.

Her group focuses on the area to the west of the University of South Florida's Tampa campus. It has hundreds of low-income apartments so it could be particularly hard-hit.

"You need to understand your rights," Combs said. "And so, whenever you get any information, any notification, any forms, any thing from your landlord, the first thing you need to do is reach out to us, so we can get you the legal counsel that you need."

Anyone living in the University Area can call (813) 558- 5212 ext. 303 to speak to the University Area CDC Housing Navigator for more information.

By the end of March, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

The White House said President Joe Biden would have liked to extend the federal eviction moratorium due to spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. Instead, Biden called on “Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the two are working on legislation to extend the moratorium. Democrats will try to pass a bill as soon as possible and are urging Republicans not to block it.

The moratorium was put in place last September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”

The court mustered a 5-4 majority last month to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July. One of those in the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”