(WSVN) - She runs a charity to help the homeless, but then, a bad break meant she might have to shut it all down. It’s why, in this holiday season, she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

We all live our lives, but some people live their lives.

Susan Bain, Starting Over Enterprises: “I was a Country Western singer. I was in Vegas in ’81, ’82 and ’83.”

Susan’s stage name in Las Vegas was Snow White. Then, she moved to South Florida and became known by another name.

Susan Bain: “And I also was known as the Cougar Lady in Miramar. I had cougars in my house for many, many years.”

From country and western to cougars, and now, Susan’s focus is on the homeless.

Susan Bain: “And we feed, we house, we clothe.”

Susan runs Starting Over Enterprises, not only caring for the homeless but hiring and training them to build cabinets.

Susan Bain: “It’s a great trade. They can make from $18 to $35 an hour when they leave. It’s a great trade.”

And the profit the charity makes from selling the cabinets pays the rent for six homes to house the homeless.

Susan Bain: “We also feed 191 families every week. I’m partners of Feeding South Florida, and we give them meat, groceries, everything — families, not the homeless, families.”

A wonderful enterprise with a terrible problem.

Susan Bain: “So, we put $60,000 down on this property.”

After the lease on her warehouse expired, Susan found another building, paid the $60,000 deposit and moved her equipment in.


Susan Bain: “I got notice from the city that we cannot have our cabinet shop here, so they denied our occupational license.”

Oakland Park officials said her cabinet shop was industrial, and this building was zoned for mixed use, so Susan asked her landlord for her $60,000 deposit back.

Susan Bain: “We can’t do what he knew we were going to be doing here, and he won’t give us our money back.”

The landlord’s reason for keeping the money?

Susan Bain: “He says it’s the city’s fault, that it’s not his fault.”

If Susan doesn’t get that money back, she will have to shut her factory down, let her employees go and be unable to pay the rent on the six houses she has for the homeless.

Susan Bain: “You’re going to put all our guys out on the street. You’re going to put a charity that we’re nonprofit for 42 years out on the street, and he does not care.”

But we care, so Howard, legally, can the landlord keep the $60,000 deposit.

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “No. While a renter should confirm they can legally operate their business at that location, in Susan’s case, the landlord listed the property as industrial, and it’s not. Combine that with the city’s refusal to let her move in, and legally, it means she can cancel the lease and get her money back.”

Turns out two corporations own the building Susan was leasing.

We didn’t talk to the owner who was refusing to return the money.

Instead, we spoke to the other owner, who has his own non-profit and has a heart.

He released Susan from the lease and returned the $60,000 to her.

Susan Bain: “I’m very glad, and I’m so happy.”

Susan has found a new building to lease just in time for Starting Over Enterprises to begin building cabinets in 2021.

Susan Bain: “Thank you so much, Help Me Howard team. Thank you, and I bless you.”

Getting $60,000 back for someone. That’s a good way to wrap up the year, except we still have more Help Me Howards lined up for the rest of 2020.

So, if you need a home for a headache, let us build a solution. We aren’t craftsmen, but we are happy to donate our time to solve your problem.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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