TAMPA, Fla. - Through April 20, Hillsborough County will suspend eviction proceedings, said Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Chronister said the decision was an effort to help residents who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, and a time when "hardworking citizens" may not be able to work, or businesses are contemplating layoffs, reducing hours or starting furloughing employees.
"How do we tell people to shelter in place when we remove their shelter," he said. "I cannot in good faith evict families from their homes, because they are unable to work to pay their rent during this national time of crisis. We must all come together as a society to help one another and show compassion for our neighbors."
On average, the sheriff's office serve 763 notices a month. Currently 250 are waiting service but will be suspended.
The decision comes a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the closures ofe bars and nightclubs across the state, and the county's emergency policy group chose to limit occupancy at restaurants.
"Many residents are likely to face financial shortfalls and find it difficult to pay their rent or mortgages due to a temporary loss of income," Chronister said.
Chronister said the county will continue accepting writs of possessions. He added that property owners can still file for evictions through court, but deputies will not be executing them through April 20.
He said the suspension period allows people to stay in their homes and free up law enforcement resources.
"We don't put profit over people's safety," he explained, "and there's no greater safety than that of an individual's home."
A few hours after Chronister's announcement, President Donald Trump announced all evictions and foreclosures will be suspended until the end of April.
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