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Non-profits expecting higher demand once eviction moratorium expires next week

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 19:25:09-04

FORT MYERS — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium expires next week.

For some people, that could mean starting to pay back rent that they owe. For others, it could mean losing their home altogether.

But either way, non-profits in Southwest Florida are getting ready to support them.

St. Matthews House served hundreds of people at food distributions Monday, both at a site in Fort Myers and one in Naples, with the help of volunteers from Mission Community Church.

We learned some of the people who rely on those meals have already lost their home.

"I lost my whole life, my whole world, my childhood, my daughter’s childhood," said Mary Saurborn.

Saurborn said her job was caring for Jessica, a developmentally disabled woman she loved like a sister, but then Jessica came down with COVID-19.

“When she died, you know, my job died with it," said Saurborn.

Saurborn has been relying on the free food from St. Matthew's House to help make bills, but she still got behind on the rent.

And she says her landlord didn’t wait for the moratorium to expire.

“I kept sending him the letter from the moratorium saying everything, that he wasn’t allowed to evict people, and he would send me texts threatening me, and the last one was, if you’re not out by such and such a date, I’ll come there and physically remove you myself," said Saurborn.

St. Matthews House said, when the moratorium expires next week, it expects more people to be in Saurborn’s situation, and for the line at the distribution to be even longer.

"Those folks could potentially see some episodic homelessness, which would certainly be, put a little bit of a pressure on the services that we already offer," said Ray Steadman, St. Matthew's House Vice President of Programs.

According to a study published this week by the company Filterbuy, there are 424,629 adults in Florida who could be at risk of eviction or foreclosure starting in August.

Steadman said they offer a homeless shelter, but it’s already full.

“We have about a couple of weeks of a wait ahead of the first person that could come in," said Steadman.

Luckily, Saurborn is staying with a friend, and can rely on steady meals from St. Matthew's House, but she’s hoping her situation improves soon.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough," said Saurborn.

St. Matthew's House tells us it doesn’t take a stance on government policy like the eviction moratorium, it just tries to grow its operation to meet the growing need in Southwest Florida.