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Coronavirus relief is about to expire for evictions, unemployment and more

From federal unemployment checks to small business loans, the clock is ticking on certain types of government assistance used by many Floridians.

For the past three months, Jayson Kaplan has been sweating the end of July.

Since losing his job around the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tampa graphic designer has been receiving $600 a week in federal unemployment aid, plus another $214 from the state.

The federal payment is scheduled to run out at the end of July. Couple that with a statewide moratorium on evictions that’s ending Aug. 1, and Kaplan is facing the worst about what comes next.

“It will be a huge problem in a very quick amount of time,” said Kaplan, 49. “I have saved as much as I can, but if I have to continue paying rent and only taking in $214 a week, that’s going to run out quickly.”

That’s the fear shared by anyone receiving — or not receiving — coronavirus assistance. From federal business loans to state rent-relief measures, aid remains available for many who need it. But it won’t last forever, and several key expiration dates are coming up.

With a new federal COVID-19 stimulus package up for discussion in Washington, it’s a good time to look at some important dates and deadlines for anyone receiving, applying for or worrying about coronavirus assistance.

Monday: Congress returns from recess Monday; the Senate will work until Aug. 7, though the House is scheduled to adjourn a week earlier. There will be robust discussion on the next round of stimulus funding, including extensions of aspects of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Among them:

  • The government’s weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments, valued at $600, are scheduled to run out “the week ending July 25,” which would be this week. (This deadline does not apply to the state’s weekly Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments of up to $275, which can continue throughout the year.)
  • Set to expire July 25 is a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for certain types of federally assisted housing, including those with federally backed mortgage loans. Because of a requirement that landlords give tenants 30 days’ notice, if the moratorium is not extended, tenants in many of these types of properties can be evicted starting Aug. 24.

Aug. 1: In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued his first statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures due to unpaid rents and mortgages. He extended the moratorium from June to July, then again to Aug. 1.

DeSantis hasn’t said whether he’ll extend the protections again, but if he doesn’t, thousands of eviction and foreclosure cases across the state will move forward in the courts after being frozen in the legal system for months. Hillsborough County has its own local order suspending evictions with no specified expiration date, but the chief judge there has said that he would likely follow Tallahassee’s lead.

Those expirations would also mean that many landlords can begin trying to recoup the months of lost rent left unpaid by tenants. The moratorium didn’t cancel rent, it only delayed its collection.

Another order set to expire Aug. 1 is the state’s waiver for work search requirements for those seeking unemployment. DeSantis has extended the order before; this is the current deadline.

Aug. 8: The federal Paycheck Protection Program has doled out more than $521 billion of an approved $669 billion in loans. The government extended the deadline for businesses to apply for the remaining $148 billion until Aug. 8.

Chris Kneer, a senior vice president for Valley Bank in New Jersey, said that after an initial rush for the loans, demand tapered off during the second round of applications. Now it’s unclear how much of the remaining money will be doled out.

“The demand was really slow, especially the last couple of weeks. It seemed as if most customers who wanted a PPP loan had already received it,” said Kneer, who runs Valley Bank’s small business lending operation out of Tampa. “Most of the banks are committed to getting PPP loans to anyone who needs them. But my guess is they won’t go through the funds and they’ll probably be redistributed to other programs.”

Aug. 31: One of the last layers of foreclosure and eviction protection is scheduled to last until the end of August. It applies only to the owners of or tenants in single-family homes with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Beyond that, if all the aforementioned protections expire, some of the last tenants who will be protected from eviction are those whose landlords has received a mortgage forbearance through the CARES Act, which can last up to a year after the date the landlord requests it.

Matt Weidner, a St. Petersburg-based attorney who represents both landlords and tenants, said government officials should be doing more to prepare for this confluence of eviction and unemployment deadlines, otherwise people may fall into a “black hole” while the state’s coronavirus numbers are still breaking records.

“The (eviction) moratorium expires, unemployment expires, PPP is gone — what’s the plan?” he said.

August and September: Since March, Florida’s major utility companies have offered a grace period to customers experiencing financial hardships from the pandemic. But over the coming weeks, they will begin shutoffs for those who are past due on their bills.

Duke Energy Florida announced this week that it would resume shutoffs in September, while Tampa Electric Co. will begin in August. That means that any unpaid balance from the pandemic will also come due in full. Both companies urged customers who may have trouble making payments to reach out to them and work out a payment plan to avoid a shutoff. They also suggested making any portion of a payment customers are able to avoid a large sum at the end of the grace period.

Sept. 30: Student loans have been in administrative forbearance since March, putting a pause on federally backed loans and locking interest at 0 percent. That ends Sept. 30, although Congress could vote to extend it in this or another session.

This is also the deadline to apply for the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program, targeting a wider range of businesses than the small-business PPP loans. The Fed aims to encourage lending by purchasing up to $600 billion in loan debt; eligible businesses can apply for loans of $250,000 to $300 million. Unlike the PPP loans, these must be repaid.

Dec. 31: The CARES Act is set to expire. That includes provisions like Florida’s weekly $275 unemployment payments and certain emergency loans for small businesses.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

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