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Florida renters fear near future ahead of 30-day eviction deadline

People could be forced out of their homes in the next 30 days if they can’t prove they are unable to pay rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past few days, we’ve heard from a number of community members who have been served eviction notices and losing jobs and now pandemic pay.

We looked at how Floridians can get the help they need ahead of uncertainty. An eviction notice is not what most people want to receive. We spoke to a renter in Lee County who asked to remain anonymous.

“And then you get letters like this, and it’s like a kick in the teeth,” he said.

For this man,  COVID-19 has been a financial roller coaster.

“It’s very disheartening,” he said. “You feel like you’re finally getting out of the hole and then you get something like that in the mail and it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, am I going to have a place to live? Do I need to find another place?’”

From losing his job, to living on unemployment, to taking a pay cut to go back to work, to not receiving his stimulus check, the man we spoke to is looking for the best solution, but he said it’s not clear.

“I was making more money off of unemployment than what I’m making now,” he said. “How are you supposed to get by?”

The man told us he called his apartment complex staff about two months ago, saying he’s been impacted by COVID-19.

After paying what he owed in full, he said he still got a letter, even though he now only owes the current rent.

“They’re basically stating … they’re building a case against people,” he said.

Lee County Board of County Commissioners recently approved more funding for the “Rapid Rehousing Program” designed to help people facing eviction.

“The big goal is to keep families from going homeless,” Commissioner Brian Hamman said. “The more time that somebody spends homeless, actually the less successful you are in getting them out of homelessness.”

In addition to The Salvation Army and other groups, Lee County is now partnering with Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul and Jewish Family and Children Services to help those facing eviction.

The management company for our source’s apartment complex sent us a statement saying they hope people who got eviction notices will reach out to make payment arrangements before the 30-day warning runs out.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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