TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — September 1 is just around the corner, which could bring a tsunami of evictions across Florida as the state’s eviction ban is set to expire.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday he was applying for the Lost Wages Assistance grant program established by the president earlier this month.
Florida remained one of the last states that had not applied.
If approved, LWA will give Floridians out of work due to COVID an extra $300 a week in benefits. If you’re already collecting unemployment, the Department of Economic Opportunity says there is nothing additional you need to fill out.
LWA benefits are backdated to August 1.
“I jumped, I was doing backflips,” Jennifer Stone said of hearing the news.
Stone, a single mother with a six year old son, claims she cannot support her family on state benefits alone. After the $600 a week CARES Act payments ran out at the end of July, her weekly benefits dropped to $148 a week.
She says she’s already been served an eviction notice.
“All these single moms, how are they going to pay their lights?” Stone asked. “Is it lights this week or is it rent?”
However, LWA will likely not be long term relief.
Benefits come from FEMA, which promises at least three weeks including backpay. But the fund could be depleted not long after that, officials say.
You must receive at least $100 a week in state benefits to qualify for LWA, which doesn’t help people like Tricia Atkins. She only gets $93.
“I have a bachelor’s in business adminstration, I was making $18.50 an hour,” Atkins explained. “So it’s been a huge adjustment.”
Atkins claims she has been pursing a benefit redetermination for six weeks with DEO, convinced she made enough in 2019 to qualify for more. So far, nothing.
The $100 minimum was a provision the White House said was aimed at curbing fraud.
Opponents argue it merely hurts those who need it most.
“There’s not really anything any of us can do about it,” Atkins said.
If and when the state’s application is approved, it’s estimated LWA payments will be disbursed within two weeks.