Tampa Bay Times: Florida quickens pace of rent aid disbursement but still lags behind nation

Florida officials say they have distributed more than $108 million in emergency rental assistance funds as of August 27, a significant increase from the $18.3 million disbursed at the end of July.

The new figures, sent in an email Friday evening from the Florida Department of Children and Families, represent around 12 percent of the first round of funding the state received from the federal government. That’s much higher than the approximately 2 percent the state had doled out to landlords as of last month.

But it still lags behind the national pace that’s been the subject of fierce criticism by housing advocates and the White House, which previously said there’s “no excuse” for local and state governments not to be getting the money out faster. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was struck down by the Supreme Court, adding a greater sense of urgency.

“At least they’re moving some money, but it’s not anywhere near where we should be,” said state Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg. “We have a whole bunch of families in a state of emergency and the money needs to be getting to those vulnerable Floridians that need help.”

Diamond, who is running for the Pinellas Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist, sent a letter earlier this month to the Department of Children and Families asking for a meeting to discuss the slow pace of rent relief disbursement. He said it still hasn’t happened.

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