Southwest Florida renters prepare for end of eviction moratorium

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
St. Matthew’s House food distribution. Credit: WINK News

With the federal eviction moratorium set to expire Saturday, there are deep concerns that the homeless population will grow. In Lee County alone, there are 904 active eviction cases.

Organizations around Southwest Florida have seen more people in need since the start of the pandemic, and that need is likely to continue to grow. For families, especially, this is a tough reality knowing keeping a roof over their head will become even more difficult.

Places like St. Matthews House that work with the community every day say there is a lot of fear for what is to come after this help ends.

“Before the pandemic, we’d give out roughly 400 meals per month, and then after the pandemic, we’ve reached as many as 20,000 meals per month,” said Ray Steadman, vice president of programs for St. Matthew’s House. “When you look at that as a metric for us, it could put a burden on the systems of Southwest Florida.”

However, smaller landlords insist they need relief, too; larger corporations that own several properties can likely absorb the cost of some tenants not being able to pay, but a family that bought a second home as an investment is still responsible for that real estate with nothing coming in.

“There’s always two sides to every story,” said real estate advisor Nick Bejelis. “And, you know, there’s the victim of, ‘Hey, I don’t have a job, I can’t pay my rent,’ and then there’s the victim of the landlord, ‘Hey, I have this mortgage that I still have to pay. And I’m the one asking, keep continuing to pay it.’ So, you know, the moratorium is trying to get things back to normal.”

And all this is happening as affordable housing in Southwest Florida becomes more and more difficult to find. More than 12 million renters in the U.S. say they likely won’t be able to pay rent in the coming months.

If you need a helping hand, don’t be afraid to reach out. You can contact local churches, shelters, government agencies and places like Cafe of Life for assistance.

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