Miami-Dade County is home to almost half a million renters, thousands facing eviction due to job loss and financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The evictions are now underway filed in the district court against tenants who have not paid rent, but the county moratorium continues to prohibit final court judgments required for the formal removal of tenants for all eviction cases filed after March 12, 2020.
As federal protections against evictions are due to expire in late January, housing justice advocates in Miami and across the U.S. are participating in demonstrations today demanding stronger protection for renters. The Miami Workers Center, an organization advocating for the needs of black-and-brown workers and other vulnerable communities, is urging Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levine Cava to extend the county moratorium to final court rulings by the end of 2021.
Paola, a resident of the city of Miami, is among those who are afraid of losing their apartment. She says New Times that on November 5, she found an eviction notice on the door of her apartment, shortly after suffering a foot fracture, lost her job and told her landlord that she would be late in paying her rent. Lawyers for the Miami Workers ‘Center knocked on her door to inform her about tenants’ rights and local and federal eviction protection.
“I had an incredible sense of relief,” says Paola. “I thought I’d end up on the street.” (Paola asked to use a pseudonym because of her advocacy role and fear of retaliation from her landlord.)
For now, Paola still lives in the apartment while her case is pending in the district court. After receiving help from the Miami Workers Center, she began volunteering for the group and went door-to-door to her apartment complex to talk to neighbors about eviction protection and financial aid.
Paola says she believes there is a gap between the information and resources available to tenants and the access of renters with problems. She says many tenants in her complex have low-income jobs, work long hours to make ends meet and often don’t know where to turn for help if they struggle.
Among people from other countries, “I think there’s a mentality, a cultural issue, [where] they say, ‘This is not in my upbringing,’ “says Paola. They say their government has never helped them in any way. So they come here with these ideas that there is nothing for them but to try to get everything they can. “
The Miami Workers Center and other organizations, including the Legal Justice Project legal aid and the Miami Tenants Union, have mobilized over the past few months to defend tenants in eviction proceedings and keep tenants in accommodation. Groups offer weekly virtual legal clinic on Tuesday night for people who may have to defend themselves in such proceedings.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says moratoriums on evictions could be effective public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 because evictions can push people into family members’ homes, overcrowded shelters or on the street, which can in turn increase the risk of infection. spread of the virus.
This week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state would receive more than $ 850 million in rental assistance from the federal government, but it will probably take weeks for the money that will break through the pipeline.
Florida lawmakers are also introducing extended tenant protection bills into state legislation. State Senator Darryl Rouson, a Democrat representing parts of St. Petersburg and Tampa, has filed a law requiring courts in certain judicial circles refer cases of eviction to mediation and removing claims against a tenant who is fighting eviction proceedings to deposit arrears in court records. State Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat representing parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, also filed a law prohibits landlords from refusing to enter into a lease agreement with a future occupant due to a previous eviction during a pandemic.
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