JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has had a steady impact on the finances of families across the First Coast, and despite vaccinations making it possible for more businesses to reopen, the number of landlords filing for court-ordered evictions remains high.
"There have been a consistent level of filings," said Suzanne Garrow, an attorney with the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid office who works with renters facing eviction.
On Your Side reached out to the Duval County Clerk of Courts for the number of evictions filed for 2021.
The numbers reflect a high in January, a low in May, and an uptick in June:
- January: 940
- February: 700
- March: 715
- April: 460
- May: 452
- June: 600* (Through June 28)
Garrow said the courts have been staying the eviction in those cases, consistent with the CDC-ordered moratorium. They have been tracking the cases and discovered many are in the Black community.
"There are certain ZIP codes where filings are greater," Garrow said. "What we see is in those ZIP codes, many of those ZIP codes are predominately people of color."
Shannon Nazworth is the CEO of Ability Housing, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing. As a landlord, the nonprofit has seen it from both sides.
"There are still resources for people who are behind on their rent, so I encourage anyone to reach out, and landlords can look into it as well to help their tenants," she said.
Nazworth said the help is in the form of federal dollars to the City of Jacksonville as well as the Florida Department of Children and Families.
"We are working to provide affordable housing but it is difficult," said Nazworth. "Jacksonville has a growing issue with housing that is affordable because of the boom and skyrocketing prices."
Attorney Dan Copeland has seen it from the other side of the issue. Copeland tells On Your Side since January, he has filed about 20 evictions.
Copeland represents landlords.
"These are not megamillionaires. They're just in bad a shape as the tenant or worse," Copeland said.
The CDC moratorium on evictions is extended to July 31, and he believes there will be another extension, which he says is unfair.
"A lot of them are losing their homes or properties to foreclosure," he said.
To counter the long wait to be paid or the uncertainty of ever being paid, he said landlords have decided to let leases expire and then ask the tenant to move.
Garrow believes this will be the last extension on the moratorium. She said it is being done to give tenants time to receive their benefits.
She said if you are having trouble paying your rent, and it is COVID-19 related, don't ignore the landlord, and do not ignore an eviction notice.
Click here for more information from Jax Legal Aid.