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Nearly 5,000 homes in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties face eviction Saturday

Counties racing to disperse COVID rental assistance
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Posted at 6:55 AM, Jul 29, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Landlords have filed more than 15,000 evictions in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties since March 2020, according to the Princeton University research group Eviction Lab.

ABC Action News found court data showing judges in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties have issued over 4,700 writs of possession since the pandemic started. A writ of possession is the final stage of the eviction process allowing an owner to have authorities remove anyone who is living in the owner’s property.


Once the moratorium expires this weekend, deputies are expected to serve these final orders leaving tenants 48 hours to get out.

Time ran out for Jonathan Branch’s family.

The Branches were evicted in May while waiting for their COVID-related rental assistance to arrive. Branch says the family fell behind after his wife caught COVID and was laid off earlier this year.

What Branch didn’t realize was that he gave up his rights to eviction protection under the moratorium when he signed an agreement to pay back rent. Had he known, he says, “I would have never signed any stipulation that invalidated the CDC declaration.”

The family found a temporary place to live but can’t find a landlord willing to rent to them.

“Our prospects of moving out with an eviction on our record, when we never had one before, is extremely worrisome for me,” Branch said.

It's not just renters facing eviction who worry about where they are going to live next. Brandon renter Tonia Bryan says her apartment complex just raised their rent by $240 dollars effective next month.

Veteran Tampa Bay Realtor Vincent Arcuri says landlords know they can spike rents in a tight market leaving no recourse for renters.

“There's so many people moving to Florida and they are not able to find housing to purchase so they are going to the rental market and it’s inflating the rental market at a record pace,” he said.

Meanwhile, the race is on to get federally approved rental assistance into the hands of landlords to avoid a wave of mass evictions.

Audrey Ziegler, director of social services at Hillsborough County, says Hillsborough was allocated $40 million from the federal government to assist tenants who lost income due to the pandemic and couldn’t pay their rents. More than $13 million has been spent assisting about 3,000 tenants, leaving more than $26 million available.

It takes about five weeks to process the applications and for the money to be paid out. Tenants and landlords can apply in their county or with the state’s Our Florida Program.

ABC Action News has put together a list of resources for anyone facing evictions, or those who have lost a home, as the moratorium ends on Saturday.

THHI serves as the lead entity for Tampa/Hillsborough County’s Continuum of Care and assists organizations and agencies within Tampa/Hillsborough County’s Continuum of Care by assisting to administer federal, state, and local funding through contracts with social service agencies.

  • Metropolitan Ministries, Inc.2101 N Florida Ave.Tampa Bay, FL 33602(813) 209-1200
  • Mary & Martha House - Ruskin100 Shell Point Rd ERuskin, FL - 33570(813) 645-7628
  • Dawning Family Services, Inc.6718 N Armenia AveTampa, FL 33604813-875-2024
  • Children's Board of Hillsborough County1002 East Palm AvenueTampa, FL 33605813-229-2884

More resources:

Pinella County Resources

Additional Hillsborough County Homeless Resources:
Hillsborough County Sunshine Line
Sunshine Line provides door-to-door transportation and bus passes for elderly, low-income, and people with disabilities who do not have or cannot afford their own transportation. Transportation is provided for medical and social service appointments, grocery trips, health and wellness, personal business and more. Trips are prioritized based on trip purpose and provided on a space-available basis. Sunshine Line does not provide Medicaid transportation

1. Homeless (Unsheltered) with Income:
Hillsborough County Homeless Services: (813) 301-7328

2. Housing Assistance:
Tampa Housing Authority – 813.253.2884
Children’s Board (5 yrs. & younger) – 813.229.2884
DCF (child w/ trauma; adult w/ disability) 813.595.0384

3. Families:
Family Promise of Hillsborough County - Interfaith Hospitality Network (ES)
Family Promise provides temporary housing, meals, and case management to area homeless families
201 Morgan Street
Brandon, FL 33510
(813) 681-6170

4. Ex-Offenders:
Abe Brown Ministries: 813.247.3285
Christlike Ministries: 813.623.1099
XO Factor – 813.341.9101 x1800
House of Hope (Female Ex-Offenders) – 813.231.5122

5. Sex Offenders:
New Beginnings – 813.971.6961

6. Felonies (Refused By All Others):
ASO Program (Children’s Bd) 813-229-2884

7. Legal Assistance (Veterans & Homeless Only):
Hillsborough County Public Defender’s Office – Ms. Cordel Batchelor 813.777.1504

8. Free Legal Services
Bay Area Legal – 813.232.1343
Bay Area Legal Services’ Team ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality) and their branch offices and partners help eligible applicants under 60 years of age with legal issues related to housing, consumer, employment, public benefits, and veteran benefits.

  • Housing: Preserving your housing and preventing you from becoming homeless. Bay Area Legal can help you with landlord/tenant problems, including eviction, whether you live in federally subsidized or private housing. They can also help you if you are a homeowner facing foreclosure, including advising you about modifying your loan and other foreclosure alternatives.
  • Consumer: Helping you protect income and property from creditors by advising or defending you in collection lawsuits when you have a legal defense; preserving your income from garnishment, and in some cases referring you for help with bankruptcy.
  • Employment: Helping you maintain income after you have lost your job by advising or representing you if you have been denied unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Public Benefits: Helping you obtain, preserve or reinstate public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, or cash assistance (TANF) by advising or representing you if you are denied or lose these benefits.
  • Veteran Benefits: Helping you obtain or preserve your veterans' benefits. The staff is accredited for the representation of veterans seeking disability, pension, or other available benefits.

9. Shower, Wash Clothes, Receive Mail, Access Computers, Coffee:
The Coffee Shop (Gracepoint Wellness) – 813.272.2311
Mon through Thurs – 8:00am – 1:00PM
6220 N Nebraska Ave.

10. Shelter for Unaccompanied Youth:
Salvation Army: (813) 221-4440
Metropolitan Ministries: (813) 209-1000
Catholic Charities: (813) 631-4370

11. Peace Outreach Resource Center
Catering to Youth between ages of 16-24.
Peace Progressive Missionary Baptist Church - 2607 E 24th Ave.
(813) 241-2411

12. Veteran Housing/Services (refer according to 1st letter of last name):
(A-M) Tampa Crossroads (813) 238-82557
(N-Z) St. Vincent de Paul (844) 455-7783

Volunteers of America of Florida - Veteran's Project (GPD) (TH)
Alcoholism counseling, case/care management, clothing, drug abuse counseling education, free transit passes, holiday gifts, individual counseling, job interview training, job readiness, job search/placement, job search techniques, job training formats, local automobile transportation, personal/grooming supplies, resume preparation assistance, transitional housing/shelter.
1205 E. 8th Avenue
Apt #116 Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 321-6949

13. Rent/Utility Assistance:
Contact Any Community Resource Center
Salvation Army – Family (Stabilization) Support – (813) 226-0055

Section 8 – contact their case manager Department of Children and Families' Downtown Service Center
1313 N. Tampa St., room 401,
Tampa Bay, Florida 33602
Call 1-866-762-2237
Will have information on government and public assistance, such as section 8 housing vouchers, homeless prevention, and other emergency assistance.

St. Vincent de Paul
Address is 12310 N Nebraska
Tampa, Florida 33612
Dial - (813) 977-7057
A number of financial assistance programs are offered. They include Housing Payment Assistance, which can include rent and energy bill help. Churches and other religious organizations are part of this charity organization in some cases a low-interest deferred loan will be issued for emergency rental assistance. Shelters and other short-term support are available as well.

Lee Davis Neighborhood Service Center
3402 N 22nd Street
Tampa Bay FL 33605
Call (813) 272-5220 or (813) 272-6533
This center helps families in the zip codes of 33602, 33603, 33605, 33608, 33614, or 33621. Provides financial assistance for rent and/or mortgage to people faced with eviction or foreclosure.

University Area Neighborhood Service Center
13605 N. 22nd Street
Tampa, FL 33613 (813) 975-2153
Another center similar to above, and this helps people in the zip codes of 33549, 33613, 33620, 33612, 33617, 33618, and 33647. It provides services to residents, including rental assistance. Support is also offered for pregnant women and for children up to the age of one year. Case management and legal assistance is offered, as well as tenant and landlord mediation.

West Tampa Neighborhood Service Center
Main address - 2103 N Rome Ave
Tampa, FL 33607 (813) 272-5074
Zip codes supported are 33601, 33607, 33609, 33611, 33614, 33616, and 33629.

Beth-El Farmworker Ministry
18240 US 301 South
Wimauma Florida, 33598
Call 813- 633-1548
Assists immigrants and farmworkers. Housing programs, including emergency rental or security deposits, may be available. Other aid includes shelter, information on low-income apartments, food, and job training. There is also pro bono help with civil issues, such as rental or landlord disputes. Referrals to loan programs to make a rent payment or for utility bills may be administered too.

Hillsborough County Health & Social Services Department - There are several centers. Get information on financial aid, programs such as section 8 vouchers, government benefits or rent-subsidized housing, and more. They have sites in the region such as the Lee Davis Neighborhood Service Center, Plant City, and a site in West Tampa that may also be involved in some form of rent or low-income housing program. Call 813-671-7647, or more on Hillsborough County public aid.

Bay Area Legal Services - The non-profit law firm can coordinate free civil legal services, aid, and representation to low-income families. There is assistance with housing issues, such as help to prevent an eviction, stability, and foreclosure assistance. Lawyers and staff also help the vulnerable, such as seniors and disabled in Hillsborough County. The address is 1302 North 19th Street, Tampa, call 813-232-1343.

Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program, or HVRP, provides various employment, case management, and housing services to those veterans behind on their rent and facing eviction as well as the homeless. It can help them pay a security deposit or rent and otherwise assist them in becoming self-sufficient. 813-276-2976.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg, Inc.
2021 East Busch Boulevard
Tampa FL 33612
Telephone - (813) 375-3933
Help is offered for people with HIV/AIDS. The non-profit offers Hillsborough County individuals a comprehensive continuum of housing and other related supportive services including emergency rental and utilities assistance. The aid is short-term, but applicants can also get referrals if they need longer-term support.

South Shore Community Resource Center
201 14th Avenue Southeast
Ruskin, Florida 33570
An extensive number of services and resources are offered to the needy. Housing issues, rent, and other needs can be addressed.

Manifestations Worldwide
3102 E. Lake Ave. Tampa, FL 33610
Dial 813-241-6919
Metropolitan Ministries, Inc.
2101 N Florida Ave.
Tampa Bay, FL 33602
Phone number is (813) 209-1200

Volunteers of America of Florida
Main address is 1205 E. 8th Avenue
Tampa, Florida - 33605
Call (813) 282-1525

Qualified people can receive very limited amounts of rent assistance from Hillsborough County
New Beginnings, Inc.
1402 E Chilkoot Ave.
Tampa, FL 33612
Main number (813) 244-7556

The Salvation Army
1603 N. Florida Ave.
Tampa Bay, FL 33602
A number of social services are offered, including referrals, shelter, and limited funds for rent help. Qualified low income seniors, families with children, the disabled will be first in line for any available funds.

Tampa Housing Authority
1529 W. Main Street,
Tampa, Florida 33607
Call (813) 253-0551
Section 8 vouchers and other aid distributed.