(WSVN) - With rents going up all over South Florida, many people are barely able to make ends meet, but as 7’s Patrick Fraser tells us, there is help out there if you know where to look. It’s the final chapter in our series “Living Nightmare.”

Belinda has rented this house for nine years.

Then life took a bad turn. She developed a neurological problem and couldn’t work.

The next blow was when her rent went from $2,150 a month to $3,000 a month.

Belinda Rapoport: “I can’t afford this. You know, it’s just – it’s out of control.”

Like so many people, Belinda fell behind on the rent, then got the notice: pay what you owe or get evicted.

Belinda Rapoport: “I owed about $8,200.”

Belinda was terrified, and then heard about Broward’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Natalie Moffitt, Broward County Human Services: “We can provide assistance with rent, mortgage and utilities.”

The program doesn’t just help unemployed people or those about to be evicted.

Natalie Moffitt: “So a household of one, as long as their income does not exceed $49,300, and a household of four, the income requirement, as long as their income is at $73,400 or below.”

Not surprisingly, the line to get help is long.

So far, more than 11,000 people have applied in Broward.

Natalie Moffitt: “We’re getting to them in the order they come in. However, if someone, if the landlord makes a decision that they’re going to file eviction, we do prioritize those cases.”

Miami-Dade County also has help for renters, with the Office of Housing Advocacy helping 3,000 people in the last nine months.

Delores Holley, Director of the Office of Housing Advocacy: “When they come to us, they are looking for us to connect them to resources, help them navigate through this difficult time.”

That’s what Tinita was hoping to find when she walked into the office.

Tinita Wilchcombe, renter: “I don’t know what to do. I was in tears.”

Tinita and her handicapped mother were being evicted.

The housing agency helped them find a home they could afford.

Tinita Wilchcombe: “I’m so grateful for Housing Advocacy, because my mother and I would have been lost in the system.”

Some programs will pay your entire rent for three months, others even longer, but that’s just a temporary solution.

Miami-Dade County is working on a permanent one: affordable housing.

Michael Liu, Director of Public Housing and Community Development: “Now we’re well on our way to putting in the ground, ultimately, an additional 26,000 units on top of the 6,500 units that form the basis of our public housing stock.”

Back in Broward, Belinda can’t wait for affordable housing to be built. She needs a place to live now.

And Broward took care of her, paying her $8,200 in back rent and next three months’ rent, giving her time to find a cheaper place to live.

Belinda Rapoport: “It was just like an answer to my prayers. It really was.”

If you are facing a rental crisis like her, we have all the assistance programs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties listed below.

Belinda Rapoport: “And just to tell everyone, don’t give up hope. There’s someone out there that’s going to help you.”

Hang in there, everyone.

I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.


Broward County Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Miami-Dade County Office of Housing Advocacy

Monroe County Community Support Services

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