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Evictions on the rise in Southwest Florida after CDC moratorium expired

Posted at 12:59 AM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 09:04:00-04

PORT CHARLOTTE — UPDATE (10/01/2021 9:00 a.m.) -- Willie Mae Jenkins' landlord, Yvonne Poyser, returned our call. She said Jenkins has an outstanding water bill and could not afford to pay the rent on time. Jenkins told us her payment schedule at work did not coincide with Poyser's payment deadlines that she used to be able to meet when her husband was alive.

"I get paid every two weeks, and it don't always fall on the first or the third," said Jenkins.

We asked if Poyser was willing to shift payment dates to work with Jenkins, but Poyser said she was not willing to do that.

ORIGINAL STORY -- Fox 4 has obtained new data showing evictions are happening at a much higher rate in Southwest Florida than they were last year.

We’re also hearing from one woman going through that painful process right now. We first brought you Willie Mae Jenkins’ story back in June when her roof caved in from heavy rainfall. Back then, she was struggling to get her landlord to fix the damage, and now she’s being told she needs to leave for good.

Jenkins is now worried Friday might be the last day she gets to spend in her Port Charlotte home after an eviction notice showed up on her door.

“I was supposed to be out this morning by 9:10," said Jenkins.

Jenkins is still living with the damaged roof from last June, but she doesn’t want to leave because she says she has nowhere else to stay.

“I have nowhere to go. Absolutely nowhere to go, but in the streets with COVID. I don’t want to catch COVID," said Jenkins.

Jenkins said COVID is what killed her grandson this year. She also lost her husband this year to an infection, which is why she’s having trouble making rent.

“I don’t have that extra income anymore, so now it’s just me. So I feel like she should have worked with me," said Jenkins.

Until this month, Jenkins' landlord did have to work with her because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a moratorium on evictions. Director Rochelle Walensky said "Mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”

Then on August 26th, the Supreme Court decided the CDC did not have the authority to impose a ban on evictions. Since then, evictions have been on the rise across the country, and right here in Southwest Florida.

Data from Charlotte County shows evictions have been steadily increasing for the past three months in a row. They went from 28 in July to 36 in August, and now 45 in September.

Data from Lee County, the most populated area of Southwest Florida, shows 1,770 evictions so far this year. There were 1,359 evictions in Lee County at the same point last year. That's an increase of 411 evictions, or about 30 percent.

Jenkins said she can’t afford an attorney or a storage unit for her things, so she’s staying put.

“I’m still here for right now until the police come," said Jenkins.

Jenkins' landlord is a woman named Yvonne Poyser. We spoke with her back in June, but on Thursday she did not return our call.

Jenkins also has a job at Wendy’s where she has worked for years. Now she’s afraid this eviction will make her lose her job as well.

We will continue to follow Jenkins story, as well as the increasing eviction numbers across Southwest Florida.