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John Elson, left, and Jeffrey M. Hearne, right. John Elson, left, and Jeffrey M. Hearne, right.

The national eviction deluge predicted for this summer from missed rent payments due to the economic shutdown will likely be worse in Miami-Dade, where affordable housing is scarce, where tenants devote among the highest percentage of income to rent and where the backlog in unemployment compensation claims is among the country’s highest. The federal CARES Act provides protection from evictions for some, but not all, tenants through August. In Florida, the governor suspended nonpayment evictions due to COVID-19, but that ends on May 17, and many landlords will start filing eviction lawsuits soon thereafter. Under both the CARES Act and the executive order, tenants remain liable for unpaid rent. Without the paychecks they live on from week to week, large numbers of tenants will, if nothing is done, be late and have to live with friends and family, in shelters, or on the streets, worsening Miami’s already large homeless population. Avoiding these consequences of mass evictions, as well as the chaos of an overwhelmed court system, would seem a priority for government at any time, but at this time, when social distancing is the best, and perhaps, only way to limit the spread of COVID-19, it is a priority with major life-threatening implications.

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