St. Petersburg, FL – On November 23, HUD announced they would award $20 million for eviction protection and diversion programming across the nation. Gulfcoast Legal Services, in a partnership with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, was awarded $2.4 million of this funding to support those facing eviction in Florida.
Additional partners on the project include Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Florida Legal Services, Northwest Florida Legal Services, Inc., and Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, ensuring the project will cover the entire state of Florida.
Florida is at unique risk for mass evictions and increased homelessness due to existing structural inequalities and the impact of COVID-19. Florida has been known as a “hot bed” for COVID-19 due to restrictions on mask mandates and low vaccination rates. These issues combine with existing housing and financial stability problems to create a dire situation for many living in the state, but especially for low-income, rural, or people of color who are currently facing an eviction or at high-risk to receive an eviction notice, such as households in arrears.
According to data from Precision for COVID[i], approximately 17% of Florida households are currently in arrears. This equals 443,152 households with a total of $1,728,680,732 owed. Project partners will use a mixture of direct legal aid, Emergency Rental Assistance navigation (providing individuals to assist clients with filling out rental assistance applications for past due rent), and public awareness campaigns to reach vulnerable communities. Without concentrated support across the nation, many of these households would not be able to stay in their homes.
“Gulfcoast Legal Services is thrilled to be part of this project, which will bring additional resources to the Tampa Bay region to help keep Floridians in their homes. We are grateful to all the partners involved and look forward to working together to make a statewide impact,” said Tammy Greer, CEO of Gulfcoast Legal Services.
For more information, or to see if you are eligible for services, visit the Gulfcoast Legal Services website at www.gulfcoastlegal.org.