As the COVID-19 pandemic story develops, governments at the local and state levels must update their policies and initiatives to swiftly adapt to change. Some Florida counties are suspending eviction procedures during the emergency, as leaving people on the streets would only exacerbate the current public health crisis. However, despite these protections, some landlords may still try to evict unknowing residents, further exacerbating the social costs of the pandemic.
The Florida Eviction Project
To help Florida residents know their rights, Project Lead Greg Bloom and Movement Lawyer Alana Greer of the Community Justice Project, with the help of Code for South Florida volunteers created the Florida Eviction Protection project. The tool allows users to input any county in Florida and view the status of eviction policies in the selected county. It also highlights the different steps in the eviction process in a dynamic flow chart that technical volunteers from Code For South Florida are updating as the evictions situation develops.
“People were getting evicted after hurricane Irma, and the state of emergency made laws inconsistent across counties.Alana Greer, The Community Justice Project
The situation is the same with COVID-19.”
The Florida Eviction Protection project keeps in mind two primary users: Florida residents across the state, and organizations like the Community Justice Project who are helping residents navigate evictions. “The most likely scenario”, says Greg Bloom, “is that an organization helping people can use this to look up the county in which the person’s in and give them basic information about the state of eviction policy, or some pointers on where they can go next.” He also emphasizes the importance of the tool “in a fast-moving situation” where some counties are changing their policies, and others are not, at varying rates.
Alana Greer of the Community Justice Project works with underrepresented and low-income populations in Miami, and regularly deals with issues of eviction in the county. “People were getting evicted after hurricane Irma, and the state of emergency made laws inconsistent across counties,” which left both tenants and landowners alike in the dark about their rights and procedures. “The situation is the same with COVID-19,” she mentions, and tenants without the privilege, time, or resources to stay up to date about changes in eviction laws are most at risk of losing their homes, especially once the eviction suspensions are lifted.
An Escalating Crisis
With unemployment rising in Florida due to the pandemic, people are losing their incomes, which makes them unable to pay rent and vulnerable to evictions. This is especially pressing since Florida is also on the cusp of hurricane season. In this uncertain climate, the Florida Eviction Protection is an opportunity for tenants and community leaders to understand their rights and protections in the face uncertainty and connect with each other for more comprehensive protections against injustice.
The Florida Eviction Protection project stands to include more resources and information for tenants as the circumstances develop. Civic engagement and crisis management alike rely on the dissemination and distribution of accurate and up-to-date information in order to make the decisions that properly represent and serve citizens. While the Florida Eviction Protection project is no revolutionary tool that is striving to turn an industry on its head, it is a significant point of connection for the well being of citizens in a time of crisis.
You can access the Florida Eviction Protection project on this URL: https://florida.evictionprotection.org/