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Rep. Val Demings Introduces Legislation to Protect Floridians from Eviction During Disasters

U.S. Representative Val Demings, who is also running for U.S. Senate, introduced the Federal Disaster Housing Stability Act of 2021 to protect Floridians from eviction. The legislation would apply an automatic eviction moratorium to all rental properties and foreclosure moratorium to all federally backed mortgages for locations under a federal declaration of an emergency. U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of Florida is co-leading this legislation and the bill is supported by the National Housing Law Project and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“Disasters happen, but evictions during a disaster don’t need to,” Rep. Demings said. “We should not allow Americans to go homeless due to emergencies outside of their control. We can and must ensure that a natural disaster does not mean needless eviction for American families.”

This bill would provide stability for renters and homeowners during future federally declared natural disasters by implementing an eviction moratorium for all rental properties and a foreclosure moratorium on all federally backed mortgages during a federally declared disaster. Demings said the legislation would protect Americans from eviction and loss of housing during disasters.

“This legislation would provide stability and certainty for millions of renters and homeowners during future federal emergencies,” Rep. Demings added about the threat of eviction. “We know that Floridians will continue to experience future severe storms and other disasters, and we need to ensure that Floridian families are fully protected during these difficult times.”

Demings is running against Republican Senator Marco Rubio, but she also faces current Democratic primary challenger Alan Grayson. Grayson was known nationally for his work on evictions and foreclosures. During his time in Congress, Grayson cut Orange County foreclosures and evictions in half thanks to his mediation. Earlier this year, Grayson told West Orlando News “no one is even talking about this issue,” and warned of a new wave due to COVID-19 and economic hardship in Central Florida. He added “the idea Rubio is helping people on this issue makes people laugh out loud.” Apparently, Demings was listening, introducing this legislation ahead of the election.

The moratoriums would be targeted, applying to just those jurisdictions covered by the federal disaster declaration. The moratorium would cover six months for homeowners. For renters, the moratorium would cover at least 90 days from the disaster declaration, after a landlord receives federal disaster assistance, or the expiration of federal disaster assistance eligibility for landlords.

“I have seen firsthand the toll that natural disasters, most recently with Hurricanes Michael and Irma, has placed on families across North Florida,” Rep. Lawson said. “Implementing a temporary eviction moratorium is crucial for recovery for many low-income households. Residents should not be burdened with locating a place to sleep at night during an already stressful time. The Federal Disaster Housing Stability Act is an important step in safeguarding our most vulnerable Americans during moments of tremendous need.”

Others also agree the legislation introduced by Rep. Demings would help protect against eviction.

“This legislation provides a meaningful opportunity to protect renters from displacement at one of the most challenging times in their lives – in the aftermath of a natural disaster. We applaud Congresswoman Deming’s efforts to provide these protections,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project.

“America’s disaster housing recovery system is fundamentally broken and in need of major reform. Too often, the lowest-income and most marginalized survivors face an increased risk of housing instability and, in worst cases, homelessness after a major disaster,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Congress should enact the Federal Disaster Housing Stability Act from Congresswoman Demings as part of a comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s disaster housing recovery framework to ensure a complete and equitable recovery for survivors.”

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