(WSVN) - With South Florida being one of the most expensive places in the country to live, 7News is dedicating this week to highlighting the current housing crisis. First up, renters with good jobs, who are still struggling with the sky-high prices.

Investigative reporter Karen Hensel has part one in a series we’re calling: “Living Nightmare.”

“‘This is insanity.”

“Every month I live in fear of being homeless.”

“How can we even feed our children?'”

Those are the words of 7News viewers sharing how hard it is to find an affordable place to live in South Florida, and they are not alone.

Karen Hensel: “How many of you have thought or are thinking of moving out of Florida? Two of the three.”

Meet Akilya Drake, Vanessa Jolibois and Anna Henry; three working women who agreed to be the voice for countless renters trying to keep a roof over their heads.

Akilya Drake/Broward assistant public defender: “I know I wanted to back out of this because it’s very vulnerable.”

Akilya is an attorney with the Broward Public Defender’s Office.

Her starting salary was $40,000 a year. She is now making around $70,000.

Still, she says between her steadily rising rent, car payment, gas, food, and other bills, she couldn’t keep up.

Akilya Drake: “It was more than half my paycheck. The raise in rent for the same apartment, and I wasn’t living on South Beach. I was living in Tamarac.”

Karen Hensel: “You’ve been a practicing attorney for a lot of years, and you have moved back home with mom and dad.”

Akilya Drake: “Yeah.”

Karen Hensel: “Back in your childhood bedroom?”

Akilya Drake: “Yes.”

Vanessa is an ICU nurse at Jackson South. But her most important job is being a mom.

Vanessa Jolibois/ICU nurse: “My children, and whatever their necessity comes first.”

Last year, Vanessa got a notice that her rent was going up, a lot.

Vanessa Jolibois: “From $1,600 to $2,700.”

Karen Hensel: “What did you do when you got that letter?”

Vanessa Jolibois: “So of course, I cried.”

Vanessa is going through a divorce and says the massive rent increase even made her rethink that decision.

Vanessa Jolibois: “Should I go back to a previous situation, whether it is toxic or not. Should you?”

Karen Hensel: “A relationship?”

Vanessa Jolibois: “Right.”

Even with the financial strain, she did not go back. She pressed forward.

Vanessa Jolibois: “It means working overtime, and it kills me because I live for my children.”

Karen Hensel: “You’re missing a lot of time with them.”

Vanessa Jolibois: “Right.”

Karen Hensel: “How do you grapple with that?”

Vanessa: “You just, umm, I am a woman of faith.”

Anna Henry/Broward Schools campus monitor: “It’s really hard. That’s all I can say on that. It’s really hard.”

Anna makes $15 an hour as a campus monitor at a Broward elementary school during the day. Then she works a second security job overnight for $12 an hour.

Karen: “You’re working two jobs.”

Anna Henry: “Yes.”

Karen: “I’m not sure how you’re awake right now.”

Anna Henry: “If I lay down and get some sleep or I try to rest at any time, everything around me will fall apart.”

Anna cares for her mother in the Fort Lauderdale home they share.

She says, last year when she only had one job, she fell behind on her rent.

What she wants is peace of mind.

Anna Henry: “You’re not having to worry about someone coming to remove you, remove your things or, you know, change your whole situation for the worse.”

Evictions, desperation and a South Florida rental nightmare with no end in sight.

Akilya Drake: “I went to high school here, middle school, elementary school. I barely know anyone living down here anymore. They’re up in Central Florida because they can afford a house. They’re moving to other cities, and it’s, we’re losing our brain trust.”

Vanessa Jolibois: “I have friends that have master’s degrees that are in the same situations that I am.”

Anna henry: “We need to change legislation.”

So what are lawmakers doing? That’s a question Kevin Ozebek is asking as our week-long series continues.

But next up, Patrick Fraser is talking with homeowners struggling with high insurance rates.

Karen Hensel, 7News.

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