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TAMPA — Evictions in Hillsborough County are on hold for at least a month.
Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Wednesday that he is suspending the execution of eviction notices through April 20 due to widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chronister said it doesn’t make sense to evict people when residents are being ordered to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus and are facing financial hardship due to furloughs, reduced hours and layoffs. As one example, he noted the effect on workers from directives by state and local officials Tuesday to close bars and nightclubs for 30 days and limit occupancy at restaurants to 50 percent of capacity.
“How do we ask people to shelter in place when we take their shelter from them?" Chronister said at a news conference Wednesday. “Removing people from the security of their homes during this vulnerable time would be a contradiction to our mission here at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to protect and serve and is also contrary to what we stand for as a community.”
Chronister said the move will also free up law enforcement resources for more urgent calls.
The Sheriff’s Office serves on average about 760 eviction orders a month and currently has about 250 awaiting service. They will be suspended.
“We’re not saying these evictions won’t be served, we’re just going to delay the process so we can see where we’re at for the next 30 days.”
The Sheriff’s Office will still accept writs of possession and property owners and landlords can still file for evictions through the courts.
Chronister said he understands the move will have an economic impact on landlords and property owners and asked for their patience and understanding.
“I cannot in good faith evict families from their homes because they are unable to work to pay their rent or mortgage during this national time of crisis,” Chronister said. “We must all come together as a society to help one another and show compassion for every one of our neighbors.”
In related news, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be suspending foreclosures and evictions for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration until the end of April.
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