LEE COUNTY, FLA — Eviction. It's a word and a reality thousands in our community are facing tonight, largely due to the pandemic.
FOX 4 did a quick check of the numbers in two of our area's bigger counties. In Lee County, we're currently sitting at 879 active eviction filings.
And in Collier County, they've had more than 1400 eviction complaints, since the start of the year.
Data from the courts in both of those counties show that these filings came while the recently extended CDC eviction moratorium was in place.
Leaders with local charity group Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice say the moratorium hasn't provided much cover for their clients.
"The moratorium doesn't protect everyone. Especially many of our clients [that] don't have a lease," said Paulina Matias, "There's been a lot of anxiety during the past couple of weeks. I'd say 80-85 percent of the calls are [about] past due rent."
They say many of the clients they work with, work in industries that were impacted not just by COVID-19, but by red tide and recent severe weather.
"It's incredible if you're on a fixed income and if you have one mishap then you are really struggling," said Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice CEO, Philomena Pereira
And if things couldn't seem to get any worse, Pereira adds that for those who have already been evicted, finding a new place to live is getting more expensive.
"And unfortunately rents in our area are exponentially increasing," she said.
In order to help, they've been offering folks food and counseling. And they're even helping to pay past-due utilities, past due rent, and security deposits.
"Our aim at the Catholic Diocese of Venice is to really keep people in their homes for as long as we possibly can," said Pereira.
But due to a recent surge in the need for their services, there's currently a 200-person waitlist.
So, they're asking folks to be patient.
"Since we're working with the most vulnerable, we do prioritize cases," said Matias.
They say one of the quickest ways to help cut that list down is community involvement.
If you want to donate your time, money, food, or other services to help catholic charities, click here.
And with all of this talk about evictions, FOX 4 didn't want to leave out landlords.
Many of them, like this woman we spoke to last November, say the pandemic has put them in the position where they're having to put people out.
In this case, the Cape Coral landlord said her old tenants simply stopped communicating with her and stopped paying rent too.
So, when Florida's eviction moratorium expired last year, she took action.
"As soon as the moratorium stopped, we waited a few weeks, and then we took legal action. I’m owed $8,000 in rent for this house that I’ll never see," she said.
We understand that without that rent money, some Southwest Florida landlords are now in a tight spot.
There are a few resources that can help you, click here for a list.