Section 8 Neighbor

WSVN — Part of her neighbor’s rent is paid for by the government under the Section 8 program, and that neighbor is caught on camera throwing trash in her backyard. What has she been able to do about her Section 8 neighbor? Not much, which is why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Sonia Bennett bought this property 37 yeas ago to rent it out.

Sonia Bennett: “At the time it was a good buy, so I got it.”

Then, about a year ago, a property next door was rented to a Section 8 tenant, a tenant that the government pays most of the rent for. That woman was not happy that Sonia’s renters were two women with children.

Sonia Bennett: “She starts vandalizing the place. All my screens are gone, and this is where she constantly throws things on the window.”

Sonia installed video cameras and saw what the woman was doing to stop the kids from playing in the yard.

Sonia Bennett: “There she comes, and then she throws things over and walks back and goes back inside. She throws dog poop, dead fish, and the moment the children would go over there to play, she throws eggs all over the place.”

Sonia called the police to show them the proof.

Sonia Bennett: “And she stands there for a minute, looks up and down the street [to see] if anybody comes in and throws the stuff over.”

The officer said they couldn’t do anything, but after the woman called police to complain Sonia had surveillance cameras, something was done.

Sonia Bennett: “The police told me, ‘You can’t put it facing her door,’ and that I was invading her privacy.”

Sonia did as the police told her and took down the security cameras. She also contacted the owner of the property and Fort Lauderdale’s Section 8 offices. Neither did anything.

Sonia Bennett: “I tried everything to take care of this, and nobody listens; nobody does anything.”

The Section 8 tenant then got more upset with Sonia’s renters.

Sonia Bennett: “She told them they must move, they must get out and move, and curse at them, curse at the children.”

Next came signs targeting the two women.

Sonia Bennett: “And stick them on the fence. She’s writing about ‘stick your [expletive], lick your [expletive].’ All kind of stuff she’s been writing out there.”

Sonia’s tenants are now ready to move out, frustrating Sonia.

Sonia Bennett: “The neighbor, she’s on Section 8, and my tax money is paying her to vandalize my property and chase my tenants away.”

Well, Howard, can a recipient of Section 8 act like this tenant?

Howard Finkelstein: “If you are a Section 8 recipient and the government is paying a majority of your rent, you have to follow the law. Throwing trash into another person’s yard is a crime, and the Section 8 authorities have the right and the responsibility to stop paying the tenant’s rent if they won’t comply with the law.”

We walked over to talk to the tenant.

Ambar Rodriguez: “Hey, we would like to talk to you.”

From the window, she let us know she thinks Help Me Howard is number one.

We went to see the landlord. An assistant said they weren’t going to do anything.

At the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority, which controls Section 8, Executive Director Tam English told us, “While the behavior described is somewhat confrontational, that does not lead to a violation of the Section 8 contract.”

When we asked how much rent Section 8 paid for the tenant, he told us, “I cannot disclose the amount.” He added, “They have a neighbor who they do not get along with. Every neighborhood has a few of these.”

Howard Finkelstein: “If the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority refuses to do their job, go to the police and the state attorney, file charges, and have the troublemaker arrested. Then a judge can put the tenant in jail, and that will stop the problem.”

Sonia is simply stunned.

Sonia Bennett: “I want Section 8 to take responsibility to be helping her to live there, to vandalize and antagonize also, for over a year.”

Patrick Fraser: “Bottom line: Section 8 doesn’t consider this a serious problem. Sonia does. Now she needs to hope the police will deal with the person throwing trash into her yard. And by the way, the signs that the tenant put up are legal. It’s considered freedom of speech.”

Housing a problem you want to toss out? Need someone to come in and clean up the mess? Contact us. You don’t have to deal with a section of our fees. We’re free.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: helpmeHoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN