Court HELP program to tackle expected wave of new evictions
MIAMI-DADE – The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution today by Commissioner Raquel Regalado to provide a $100,000 grant to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida to fund the creation of the Court Housing Eviction Landlord/Tenant Portal “Court HELP” program to assist landlords and tenants in the eviction process.
“When the evictions moratorium lifts in March, we expect potentially thousands of cases to flood the courts,” said Commissioner Raquel Regalado. “This program will give our courts the resources they need to help those who need it most – before a judgment is issued to evict.”
A report of evictions cases in Miami-Dade County issued by the Commission Auditor last week documented that evictions filings in 2020 were significantly down compared to 2018 and 2019. The Commission heard testimony today that evictions numbers may double once the moratorium on residential evictions is lifted.
“The moratorium hasn’t erased people’s debts, only delayed them,” said Regalado. “On March 31, the bill will come due for thousands. Our court system, and our social safety net, could be in for a rough ride.”
Judge Scott M. Janowitz, a judge in the County Civil Division, told the Commission that the Court HELP program will create online tools and mediation assistance to help landlords and tenants come to an agreement and avoid a writ of possession being issued by a court.
“We would expect fewer negative outcomes like defaults, writs of possession, homelessness and reliance on public assistance,” said Judge Scott Janowitz. “Our goal is to increase community accessibility to participate in the eviction process, making courts more user friendly… and providing access to justice by allowing the landlord and tenant to quickly resolve their disputes and decrease costs for all parties.”
The resolution directs the administration to bring the fully negotiated grant agreement back to the Board for approval within 30 days.