HMH looks forward to another year of community problem solving

(WSVN) - 2019 is here: time to get excited about the wonderful things the new year will bring and a little nervous about the problems we will all face. What can you do about them ahead of time? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Hello, everybody. I’m Patrick Fraser, and I am Howard Finkelstein, lucky enough to be here for our 21st year of doing Help Me Howard, helping you solve your problems.

We all have hurdles and hiccups in our everyday life. What we need is a way to fix those problems before they become a headache, so let’s look at what we have seen in the past few months to get ready for those curveballs life will throw at us in 2019.

Starting with businesses and bureaucracies…

Several people had issues with government agencies, from a vet blocked from selling hats on county right of way, to fines for a 20-year-old violation, to water bills that suddenly soared like a geyser.

With businesses, we heard a lot from people who had problems with their banks, contractors who took the money and never did the work, and far too often many of you had trouble getting your employer to give you a paycheck.

Howard, how do you deal with a less than stellar business?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Avoid businesses with a bad reputation by going online and checking out their reviews, or ask your friends and family. And we hear from so many people who research a business after they get ripped off. Do it before you give them money or sign anything.”

As for government agencies, I have to tell you they have improved dramatically since we started Help Me Howard 20 years ago. Today, most move quickly and get things done after we contact them.

Up next: personal problems that you and only you may face.

Whether it’s a mother wondering if her twins really died at birth, to a 5-year-old expelled from school after his mother complained and something we are seeing more and more: people with social media headaches. A fellow fired over a private Facebook post, a woman wondering if a text is a binding contract…

Howard Finkelstein: “The one piece of advise I can give and that’s don’t post anything online that you don’t want your parents, your children, your employer to read. And when you post it, remember even if you delete it later, someone has saved it, and odds are it’s out there forever and could cost you money, friends or a career.”

From your personal issues to your home, like a homeowner’s association that wouldn’t let a disabled veteran build a porch to protect himself from the heat and bugs, landlords who won’t do a thing about leaks leaving apartments filled with mold and, of course, the always tough one: people who can’t get their security deposit back when they move out of a rental.

Howard Finkelstein: “When it comes to condos, associations and rentals, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. If you own a condo, attend board meetings and make sure you get a copy of their rules and regulations. If you are a renter, make sure you have a copy of your lease because you need to know what’s in your lease. Also, if there are problems, document them and send an email to the property manager or landlord.”

One more category, not people with problems — the incredible South Floridians who have the solutions.

Jackie had a broken down car. After her Help Me Howard story aired, several South Florida businesses stepped up to take care of her.

Remember Betty who was going to be homeless after an $18 rent hike?

Hundreds of South Floridians saw her on Help Me Howard and donated money to keep a roof over Betty’s head.

Then there was Jose who needed to have scars removed after he was burned as a child.

Dr. Jill Waibel stepped in to help remove the scars.

So when you hear people don’t care, Howard, people do care.

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes they do. We have heard from so many good people out there who just want to help the people they see on our segment. Thank you to them.”

And of course we care. We want to help. If you have a specific problem, email or call us to get you out of that pain in the neck problem.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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