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Apartment Association Wants Affordable Housing Trust Fund Used For Rental Assistance

Eviction Notice and Bills To Pay - Hands of a Woman - Laptop - Calculator
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Frustrated hand expression from an Eviction Notice - Covid 19 effect - Cancel Rent - Hardship

Thousands of Americans are still out of work and a federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year. Florida Apartment Association says some landlords are trying to keep people in their homes. The group represents around 800,000 units across the state of Florida. Amanda Gill is their Government Affairs Director. She says during the pandemic most of the association’s members have tried to help tenants who are out of work.

"For example, they might be offering month to month leases where perhaps in the past they didn’t do that. They might be offering payment plan arrangements with residents who can’t pay at this time or rent deferment for a resident who’s waiting for their unemployment to kick in," said Gill. "They’re providing unprecedented flexibility and they’re also helping residents often times apply for rent relief funds."

Gill says the biggest help, in the beginning, was the federal CARES Act. It provided an increased amount of unemployment benefits and also the money used for rental assistance. But most of that has come to an end.

"We’re seeing higher delinquency rates and I think it’s because like I said unemployment oftentimes just isn’t enough to cover someone’s ongoing expenses that they might have," said Gill. "At the federal level, I do think there’s a responsibility and a need to provide rent relief and potentially additional unemployment funds to help individuals.

The Association surveyed about 100-thousand units in November. Gill says less than 1 percent of those, had an eviction notice.

"In contrast with that, 2.65% of the units we surveyed had units on a payment plan," said Gill. "So what that tells me is there’s more housing providers who are working with residents to find a mutually beneficial payment agreement than there are, at least in our member network, filing evictions."

She wants the legislature to allow the Affordable Housing Trust Fund money to be used for rental assistance.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.