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City Commissioners holding housing stability during COVID-19 workshop

Tallahassee City Commissioners will be holding a workshop on housing stability during COVID-19 Tuesday.
Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 5:24 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee City Commissioners will be holding a workshop on housing stability during COVID-19 Tuesday. Commissioners will help discuss preventative measures focused on helping people avoid homelessness.

As the situation has evolved during the pandemic and eviction moratoriums expired, the city saw an uptick in eviction and foreclosure filings in September.

According to data from the Leon County Clerk of Courts, there are currently 440 pending eviction cases and 60 pending foreclosure cases.

Commissioners will discuss one option that could help landlords who are often caught in the middle of paying their own mortgages.

Commissioners will vote whether to create a “landlord risk mitigation fund” that would hold $250,000.

“A fund like that is designed to provide something like an additional security deposit where landlords can tap into when they reach a crisis; but one of the best ways about that working is in concert with other intervention and diversion and counseling and education,” Director of Housing and Community Resilience Abena Ojetayo says.

In addition to the possible fund, Commissioners will discuss continued partnerships with local non-profits to assist those in need.

Another aspect of housing is utilities. The City of Tallahassee is one of the only cities in Florida that is not cutting off utilities for nonpayment.

There are more than 12,000 past-due accounts right now, amounting to $8 million.

Ojetayo says trends in Tallahassee are similar to nationwide and statewide ones.

Nationwide, 29% of homeowners are not caught up on their mortgages; 38% of renters are not caught up on their rent. Florida’s numbers are slightly better: 21% of homeowners are behind on mortgages, while 36% of renters are behind on their rent.

The agenda item for Tuesday’s meeting also takes a closer look at the population struggling with homelessness. According to that item, there is a “sizable” population struggling with homelessness in Tallahassee, and several hundred more families could lose their housing options in the next couple of months. 600 to 700 people in Tallahassee are currently in one of 11 emergency shelters or one of 40 encampments.

Ojetayo says the focus on Tuesday will be how to prevent the worst from happening and get ahead of nationwide trends.

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