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Tallahassee leaders urge Gov. DeSantis to reinstate eviction moratorium

Leaders support another eviction moratorium
Posted at 6:40 PM, Dec 17, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The families now dealing with evictions say they don't want to see others go through that pain.

Add to that the housing advocates fearing an influx in evictions could overwhelm existing resources. Those concerns are now leading to requests for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to reinstate an eviction moratorium.

Titus Stallworth says his biggest fear is having to sleep in his car. Stallworth is one of the 438 people evicted in Leon County in November. In between homes, he's living with his sister. However, there's a chance that she could be evicted as well.

Like Stallworth, David Bowen was also evicted.

"It didn't just affect me, the bill payer of the home. It affected my whole family and everyone around us. For the last week and a half, we were staying in a hotel. $1,000 spent, money we had to waste because of this. Thank God we found a Godly family that had a home," said Bowen.

"What happens when you got a food assistance card in your pocket? You can't go to McDonald's. And, when you go to the store, you can't put it in a refrigerator because you don't have a house," said Stallworth.

Stallworth received an eviction letter one week before Halloween. Although the CDC recommended eviction moratorium doesn't end until Dec. 31, Gov. DeSantis opted to end Florida's moratorium at the end of September.

"I'm not all that. I'm just a normal person, but the thing of it is, where do you go from here, and what do you do now? I don't have money to get up and get a new place," said Stallworth.

Left with more questions than answers, he stood beside Tallahassee Commissioner Jack Porter, State Senator Lorrane Ausley, Tallahassee attorney Mutaqee Akbar, Tallahassee NAACP President Adner Marcelin, as well the heads of the Big Bend Continuum of Care, the Legal Aid Foundation of Tallahassee, Legal Aid Services of North Florida.

These groups are asking Florida's Governor to help.

"We are here today to ask that our governor and our leaders take action to reinstate the eviction moratorium. To protect tenants, homeowners, landlords, small and medium-sized businesses. To extend the state of emergency, plus at least 60 days to allow for a recovery period to our residents," said Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter.

Commissioner Porter is also urging the Governor to pass legislation clearing the record for anyone evicted during the pandemic.

"This is a critical occasion. A time of grave concern. As we face perhaps the most urgent housing crisis of our lifetime," said Porter.

Tallahassee NAACP President Adner Marcelin said some of the people renting out his properties have asked for help.

"I personally, as a landlord, have done my part by working with tenants who rent from me. I think we all need to step up because humanity is not something we need to negotiate," said Marcelin.

While it's too late for those already evicted, groups like the Florida Housing Finance Corporation are helping those behind on rent.

"It's important to have everyone safe and stably housed. Especially during a pandemic," said Florida Housing Finance Corporation Executive Director Trey Price.

FHFC projects it will help more than 17,000 households before the year ends. However, its funds will dry up on Dec. 30. That leaves hundreds of thousands concerned about January.

Leon County's homeless population is now about 200, double the average.

The Big Bend Continuum of Care told ABC 27 that, once more evictions start to be processed by mid-January, the county could be looking at a homeless population higher than 500.

For the people looking for help paying their bills, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation grant is still available. You can find more information by clicking here.

Groups like Legal Aid Services of North Florida and the Legal Aid Foundation of Tallahassee offer free legal help for anyone facing eviction.