Why Your Neighbors Will not be Evicted During the Next State of Emergency
Miami-Dade County Commission approved a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, pushing for pending evictions to be delayed during a declared State of Emergency and 15 days thereafter.
This resolution includes the passing of Senate Bill 480 and House Bill 321, legislation grounded in halting residential eviction proceedings. However, according to Olga Vega, the Director of Communications at the Commissioner’s office, the resolution passed on Feb. 4 still requires the Florida legislature to pass it.
This resolution comes after the Board of County commission meeting held on Nov. 19, which passed a resolution calling for the Mayor to assure the Miami-Dade Police Department did not facilitate any evictions of Public Housing or county-owned residents during a declared State of Emergency.
Commissioner Diaz was inspired to sponsor this resolution after viewing a news story about 75-year-old Maria Cazanes, a Miami Beach resident who was being evicted while the rest of the state was preparing for Hurricane Dorian. Cazanes had her belongings thrown from her second-floor condominium by her landlord, claiming she was breaking rules by keeping cats. The police stood by and watched.
“During a time like that, our resources, including our police, should be focused on residents’ health and safety, not evicting people in an already stressful situation,” said Vega, an ideal which she says Commissioner Diaz’s sponsorship of the resolution stemmed from.
Protection from eviction during a State of Emergency prevents residents from being thrown into the street in the middle of a disaster. According to Vega, a State of Emergency is declared when Governor Ron DeSantis deems a natural disaster threatening to Florida. In addition, the State Emergency Management Act, enacted by the Florida Legislature allows state, local and federal government to work together to plan and respond to both natural and man-made disasters.
During any declared State of Emergency, Florida residents at-risk of eviction can now be assured that their eviction will be delayed until 15 days after the declaration. Afterward, however, residents should expect evictions to proceed as normal.
While delaying evictions means at-risk residents are still not paying their rent, Vega says there is no additional cost associated with this resolution. It is not about money at all, according to Vega. “This is not about giving people an ‘easy out’ when it comes to rent payments; this is about the safety of and welfare of all citizens,” she said.
Commissioner Diaz has seen what danger evictions during natural disasters pose to residents. Due to the lack of law in this area, Diaz proposed this resolution as a protection for at-risk residents, who can now expect to be safely in their homes during a declared State of Emergency.
Vega encourages residents to reach out to Senator Jason Pizzo, Representative Michael Grieco or Representative Anna Eskamni for any further clarification on this issue.