In The News

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Emergency Rental Assistance Reports

Treasury ERA Reports

Treasury has published ERA spending data for Q1, April, and May on its website along with a report on the findings from the data collection.  Information from the report for Florida Local Government and the State of Florida are listed below.

.Total Amount of ERA ReceivedTotal Amount of Rent, Rental Arrears, Utilities Paid (January – May 2021)Total Households Served (January – May 2021)
Local Government – Florida $569,951,365 $62,300,000 12,688
State of Florida $871,237,609 $130,216 19

If you are seeking rent, rental arrears, or utilities due to financial impacts related to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, please visit OUR FLORIDA to apply today.

Facing Eviction?

The CDC director has signed a declaration for a temporary halt on evictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The CDC has provided a full FAQ to answer questions about the declaration.  We strongly encourage you to read the FAQ.

FCEH has also provided a simple Q&A about the eviction moratorium, with local resources:

Q:  What is a moratorium?
A:  A moratorium delays the final action of an eviction, it does not cancel your responsibility to pay rent.  You must pay your rent as you can.

Q: Am I protected against eviction?
A:  The CDC eviction moratorium suspends evictions for failure to pay rent if you file a declaration form with your landlord.  This means that you must file the declaration to prevent eviction, pay what you can, and continue to seek financial assistance to help pay your past due rent.  Discuss your situation with your landlord because having open communication is important to your ongoing relationship.

Q:  Are there resources to help me pay my rent?
A:  Florida has provided Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to local county governments for rent and/or mortgage relief.  Please contact your local County office first.

State of Homelessness – Florida

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has published its 2020 State of Homelessness report for all fifty States.  The 2019 Point In Time Count shows 28,328 individuals experiencing homelessness in the State of Florida.  This represents a 9% decrease compared the 2018 Point in time numbers.  This includes a 26% decrease in family homelessness and a 22% decrease in youth homelessness compared to the 2018 Point in Time.  Please use the map below for your local community information.

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget

Transmittal Letter 06.29.2020 Budget

The Governor signed the budget this afternoon.  Our priorities for the 2020 legislative session are noted below:

$3M Staffing Grant – approved

$3,181,500 Challenge Grant – approved

$115M SAIL – Approved

$225M SHIP – VETOED / “held back “for General Revenue shortfall – Governor points to Cares Act funding to fill this “hold back” for general revenue shortfall.

In total, the Governor vetoed $1.1 billion

Half vetoed from general revenue, the other half trust fund.  CARES Act funding should offset the veto/shortfall for the Housing Trust Fund.  CARES Act funding was appropriated for “SHIP-like” activities.  $250 million will be provided by Florida Housing Finance to the State’s Counties within the next two weeks and must be spent by December 31, 2020.  CoCs are encouraged to partner with local government to help spend these funds within the required timeframe.

The full press release is posted here:

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the state budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The budget totals $92.2 billion, provides over $350 million in tax relief and includes more than $1 billion in vetoed spending.

“Despite the present challenges Florida faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget ensures the state’s priorities are protected and funded,” said Governor DeSantis. “Our current economic landscape is vastly different since the Legislature passed this budget in March. As Governor, I must remain a mindful steward of taxpayer dollars. This budget reflects a steadfast commitment to Floridians by safeguarding important investments in key areas including education, the environment, infrastructure, public safety and more. As we move forward with our Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, we will overcome the adversities before us and emerge stronger than before.”

Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget are provided below:

K-12 Education

Governor DeSantis vowed to make 2020 the “Year of the Teacher” by making historic investments in our K-12 education system. The budget includes $500 million to raise the minimum K-12 teacher salary into the Top 5 nationwide and increase salaries for veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel. The budget also includes record per student funding of $7,793, an increase of current year spending by $137 per student.

Higher Education

To continue building on the success of Florida’s higher education system, the budget includes historic state operating funding for the Florida College System and State University System at $1.3 billion and $2.7 billion respectively. It does not include any tuition increases. The budget also provides an increase of $18.9 million for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Environment

The budget continues Governor DeSantis’ record investments in Florida’s environment and water quality, providing more than $625 million for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources.

Included in this investment is more than $322 million for Everglades restoration projects, $50 million for springs restoration, $160 million for targeted water quality improvements, $40 million for alternative water supply, and $25 million to combat harmful algal blooms and red tide. With this budget, Governor DeSantis is more than halfway to his goal of securing $2.5 billion for Florida’s environment.

Additionally, the budget includes $100 million for Florida Forever, the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program to ensure the conservation and preservation of our natural resources for future generations.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the state has not lost its focus on critical transportation infrastructure and hurricane recovery needs. The budget provides $9.2 billion for the State Transportation Work Program, including $2.5 billion for highway construction, $400.5 million for aviation improvements, $885.5 million for rail/transit projects and $236.4 million for safety initiatives.

Additionally, the budget includes $1.3 billion in in federal and state funding for communities to respond to, recover from, and mitigate against major disasters or emergencies. Further, the budget provides $10 million for state-level election oversight activities, with a focus on cybersecurity enhancements to Florida’s election system.

Health and Human Services

The health and well-being of all Floridians is paramount. The budget invests $117.6 million in funding for children and families who receive services through Florida’s child welfare system, including $53 million for major reforms to our child welfare system to enhance accountability and the quality of care a child receives. The budget also includes $8.7 million in funding to support the Office of Public and Professional Guardianship to ensure the legal rights of Florida’s elderly population are protected.

The budget includes $138.1 million in total funding to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, investing $81.8 million from the State Opioid Response Grant to address the opioid crisis by providing evidence-based prevention, medication-assisted treatment and recovery.

Public Safety

The budget continues to make necessary investments in public safety. It includes $2.3 million to implement the first Statewide Behavioral Threat Assessment strategy in the country and more than $8.1 million to expand and enhance Florida’s crime databases.

The budget includes $6 million to make Florida’s correctional facilities safer, including $3 million for security equipment. It also provides important funding for pay increases for correctional officers and $17.3 million for a pilot project that transitions these officers from a 12-hour shift to an 8.5-hour shift.

Reserves

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida continues to maintain strong reserves. Reserve amounts included in the budget are:

  • $2.3 billion in unallocated General Revenue
    • Includes projected reversions of $781.6 million. This does not include adjustments for COVID-19 revenue losses.
  • $1.7 billion in the Budget Stabilization Fund
  • $1.5 billion in unallocated Trust Funds
  • $0.8 billion in Tobacco reserves
  • $6.3 billion in Total Reserves

The transmittal letter is attached. For details on the budget, click HERE.

To view the veto list, click HERE.

House Bill 163 – Homelessness Signed by the Governor

The Governor signed House Bill 163 by Representative Thad Altman on June 18, 2020.

HB 163 revises the state’s approach to preventing and ending homelessness by aligning state requirements with requirements of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding grants to Continuum of Care (CoC) lead agencies. As a result, the State Office on Homelessness (State Office) will be able to award grant money more expeditiously and efficiently.

The bill requires each CoC lead agency to create a continuum of care plan which implements an effective and efficient housing crisis response system to prevent and end homelessness in the CoC catchment area. The bill also requires the State Office to align its catchment areas for CoC lead agencies with HUD’s catchment areas. The bill adds representatives from the Florida Housing Coalition and the Department of Elder Affairs to the Council on Homelessness, which develops recommendations on how to reduce homelessness statewide and advises the State Office.

HB 163 also increases the amount of Challenge Grant funds each CoC lead agency may receive annually from $500,000 to $750,000, and it reduces the amount of matching funds or in-kind support required for a Challenge Grant recipient from 100 percent to 25 percent. The bill also increases the maximum percentage of grant funds that a CoC lead agency may spend on its administrative costs from 8 percent to 10 percent and changes the preference for funding to be for COC lead agencies that have a demonstrated ability to move households out of homelessness.

The bill amends sections of law outlining two approaches to housing services, Rapid ReHousing and Housing First. It requires that individuals and families being considered for Rapid ReHousing assistance be assessed and prioritized through the continuum of care’s coordinated entry system. The bill also removes the program element indicating a benefit for an individual to have a background check and complete rehabilitation for any addiction to substances when participating in Housing First services.

The bill was approved by the Governor on June 19, 2020 and will become effective on July 1, 2020.