On Friday, Osceola County Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington and U.S. Representative Darren Soto held a news conference introducing Osceola County’s new Eviction Diversion Program and liaison, focused on offsetting a potential flood of pandemic-related evictions.

The liaison, which is part of Osceola County’s Human Services Department, will be stationed at the Courthouse on the 2nd floor in Suite 2418 beginning Monday, August 9, and will guide people through the Eviction Diversion program that has already helped provide more than $26 million to benefit residents and stave off evictions of those who lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The position will be staffed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“From the beginning of this healthcare crisis we understood its economic impact and we acted quickly and decisively. Even if someone has been evicted, if it’s due to COVID, the County will assist in helping the resident find new housing,” Arrington said. “Our County continues to keep all of its programs open so people can take advantage of all the millions of dollars available to keep a roof over their heads and food in their kitchen.”

According to the Clerk of the Court, Osceola County has nearly 1,600 open/reopened eviction cases. The courts in Osceola County are aware of the County’s eviction diversion program and remind landlords that are filing evictions about the program.

The national eviction moratorium expired at the end of July, but the Biden administration put in place a more limited freeze. It is not known if it will withstand any anticipated legal challenges. However, at some point, these evictions will move forward and the County’s hope is to begin that intervention now. The new ban on evictions covers parts of the United States – including Florida — that are experiencing what the CDC calls “substantial” and “high” spread of the coronavirus.

Osceola’s eviction diversion program was launched in October 2020 and has operated without interruption since then. If a landlord has filed an action of eviction for non-payment of rent, residents can contact 407-742-8440 or email evictionassist@osceola.org to make an appointment with the liaison.

“The American Rescue Plan provided Osceola County and local governments across America with funds to help struggling families with housing costs during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Darren Soto. “I am proud of the assistance that has been distributed so far and applaud Osceola for being the first Central Florida county to establish this position. This crucial step will better ensure tenants facing an eviction case can save their homes and landlords finally get paid.”

Requirements include:

  • Be an Osceola residency
  • A valid Driver’s License or State ID
  • A signed lease (apartment or house) for a property that is your primary residence
  • Proof of COVID hardship (loss of income, laid off, reduced hours, furloughed)
  • An eviction action filed against you (case number must be provided)

Vice-chairwoman Viviana Janer has urged people to take advantage of any of the County’s assistance programs such as eviction diversion and one recently launched to help seniors – while continuing to follow CDC recommendations for fighting the spread of the virus – including vaccinations.

“The economic assistance programs are so important for residents but the only way to fight this pandemic remains unchanged. That message is simple: Get vaccinated, wear masks when around other people, maintain social distance and good personal hygiene. I know this community can do the right thing for the greater good to avoid a dangerous and deadly summer,” said Janer, who this week wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis and asked “assistance in providing additional testing kits to the local Departments of Health and a resumption of daily COVID-19 data updates during the virus’s resurgence.”

The County’s program has helped approximately 300 households so far. In addition, Osceola Commissioners have provided $23.7 million for housing and utility assistance to 3,852 households – and another $80,550 to local food pantries.

Important Links:
County assistance program: www.osceola.org/agencies-departments/human-services/housing/
Information on testing options: www.Osceola.org/covid19testing.
Vaccination locations: www.Osceola.org/covid19vaccinations.