The federal ban on evictions meant to help struggling renters during the pandemic is set to expire on March 31.
But South Florida housing advocates want the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium to be extended.
“Don’t lift the moratorium before that relief shows up,” said Annie Lord, executive director of Miami Homes For All.
Lord said an extension could give tenants some relief while they wait for the rental assistance recently passed by Congress.
She is not alone in this sentiment: last week, 2,272 organizations sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to extend the CDC’s moratorium.
“That rent relief is on its way," Lord said. "$80 million is going to shore up the rental market. So what we need is to ensure that folks can remain in place until that money can be deployed."
In order for a renter to be protected under the CDC moratorium, they must complete a declaration stating they meet certain qualifications and provide a copy to their landlord.
But NBC 6 Responds found it’s a step many South Florida renters have not taken so far.
A spokesperson with the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Broward told NBC 6 they have 2,488 pending evictions cases, but “only 220 have filed for CDC Declarations, less than 10%.”
The spokesperson went on to say that "all eviction cases in which the tenants claim a financial hardship are being diverted to the residential eviction mediation program, whether or not the tenants file a CDC Declaration.”
The Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts told NBC 6 Responds they currently have 4,045 pending evictions and so far, 248 renters have filed for the CDC protection.
“They believe they are covered automatically and universally and that is just not true,” Lord said.
Despite courts in both counties already processing evictions, Lord said the number of evictions could go up if the CDC moratorium is lifted by the end of March.
“I don’t think there is any assurance that there will not be an increase in evictions,” Lord said.