Posted November 21, 2018 05:18:13 A federal court on Thursday ordered the State of Florida to begin the process of allowing the public to apply for a $1,000 loan for a vehicle in need of major repairs, a move that could pave the way for millions of low- and moderate-income Floridians to receive loans.
The court ruled the state must make the process accessible to everyone, regardless of income or financial circumstances, by the end of the year.
The ruling is a blow to the state’s governor and a blow for the thousands of Floridian families who are struggling to pay for a home, food, and other necessities.
The decision means thousands of low and moderate income Floridien will be able to get loans to repair vehicles and other equipment without having to go through an expensive and burdensome application process.
The Department of Finance and the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are reviewing the ruling.
“It’s going to be very exciting,” said John D. Lauten, a senior staff attorney with the Campaign Legal Center.
“People are going to see their options.
They’re going to get the vehicle repaired, they’re going.
And they’re getting it fixed and getting it paid for, and then they can get on with their lives.”
The ruling comes as millions of Floridas are grappling with the cost of basic repairs and other essential needs after Hurricane Irma swept through the state.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that nearly half of all Floridias are underwater on their housing costs.
In recent weeks, more than $300 million in repairs to homes, businesses, and government offices have been funded by the federal government.
The government will provide up to $500 million to address the needs of Florida homeowners.
The state also needs to issue $250 million in bonds to help pay for the repair costs, said Julie Williams, an assistant director at the state Department of Revenue.
“We know that many Floridiens are not making ends meet and that many more are in need,” she said.
“And so the state has the obligation to make sure that Floridials can get the necessary repairs.”
The court ordered the state to begin issuing the loans in early 2018.
But in order for the money to be released, the state will have to issue at least $1 billion in bonds, meaning the loans will take at least two years to process.
“This is an opportunity to get this financial help to people that need it, and it’s also an opportunity for the state of Florida, and its taxpayers, to make it clear that they want to make this right,” Lauton said.
Florida’s governor said the state intends to use the $1 million for the first phase of the repair program, which will help Floridial homeowners get up to five repairs a year.
He said that will cost taxpayers $6 million per year.
“The government has a duty to provide money for this,” Laugher said.
Lauger said the goal is to have a loan program that would be available to all Floridas.
“For people to be able [to] get their vehicles fixed without going through the process that we need to go thru is going to make the whole process much quicker and more affordable,” he said.
The appeals court ruling comes after the Florida Department of Transportation and the state filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.
Frank Baum, the judge presiding over the case, said the DOT is challenging the constitutionality of the process and the governor is abusing his authority by issuing an order that will not only delay the payments of those who need the assistance, but also delay the rehabilitation of the entire state.
“These orders are unconstitutional,” Baum said.
Baum ruled the decision by the appeals court was not without precedent.
“But this case is unlike any other in our country in that the order that was issued was in direct violation of the First Amendment and the Constitution of the United States of America,” he wrote.
Baer wrote that the state had failed to meet its burden of showing that the governor’s order was “unduly burdensome.”
The DOT said the governor has an “unprecedented authority” to issue such orders.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office also called the court order an abuse of authority.
“Governor Laugers actions to make an immediate, unilateral, unilateral order will prevent Floridiaries from making needed repairs and will harm the financial stability of Florids economy,” said Jennifer Schulz, an attorney with state Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
“A Florida citizen cannot make a living wage by working as a waitress or cleaning apartments,” said Schulz.
“Instead, he has issued a blanket order that is completely out of touch with the economic needs of his constituents.”
The state of Texas is also suing to stop the payments