(WSVN) - The South Florida housing crisis has residents living on the edge. The prices of homes, apartments, insurance, and condo assessments keep going up and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.
Tonight, we begin a series of reports on this issue facing so many.
7’s Karen Hensel investigates: Paradise Lost.
They look like tired travelers waiting for a flight. But take a closer look.
These people are actually homeless and they are living inside Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Rebecca: “Well, since right now, I am completely broke, so I’m not going anywhere. Just going, hiding in different parts of the airport.”
Rebecca has lived here with her adult son and cat for almost a year. She says the airport is safer than the streets and overcrowded shelters.
Rebecca: “You got cameras everywhere. You’ve got police.”
She became homeless after her husband Brian died. She moved from Arizona to Florida for a fresh start.
Rebecca: “I left phoenix with $15,000. It goes quick.”
The job and apartment she had lined up, both fell through. Then she lost $3,500 in a rental scam.
Broke, she landed at the airport, homeless.
We first spoke with Rebecca in March. She agreed to keep a video diary.
Rebecca (in video diary): “I am losing hope on all of this, it’s just getting hard.”
Taking us inside the struggle and sleepless nights.
Rebecca (in video diary): “It is actually a little scary doing this because I’m literally hiding under a blanket.”
Even more terrifying, the idea she could be kicked out. It is a constant fear as more and more homeless migrate to the airport.
Rebecca (in video diary): “It’s about one and there’s just a lot of people tonight. There’s a group of like four, I think, that get themselves completely walled in. That’s usually when they get angry. When customers come out and they start seeing that many homeless people.”
Rebecca says she leaves during the day to stand in line at soup kitchens. At night she moves between terminals and the parking garage.
Rebecca (in video diary): “It’s scary out here. It’s after 10 p.m.”
Rebecca (in video diary): “Just a quick shot of us leaving one and heading over to three.”
A good night for her is when she can find a family bathroom to sleep in because the door locks.
Rebecca (in video diary): “This is us at a car rental terminal charging up the phones.”
She uses the Wi-Fi at the airport to apply for jobs.
Rebecca (in video diary): “I am sick of this. I want to go to work. I keep putting in job applications.”
At one point she did get a job, ironically here at the airport, doing what she did in Phoenix, pushing passengers in wheelchairs.
Rebecca: “I like customer service a lot. I like the exercise I got pushing chairs.”
But was fired a week later.
Rebecca (in video diary): “It’s about 4 a.m. My eyes are a little swollen this morning from crying all day yesterday.”
She believes the company found out she was homeless.
Rebecca: “It’s hard to go to interviews when you have to be here, when you don’t have a definite, permanent address. The address that I use for mailing comes back to a church for the homeless, so they pretty much put two and two together. And then everywhere I go, I’ve got to take everything with me.”
She kept some possessions in storage, but lost them when she couldn’t pay for the unit anymore.
Karen Hensel: “So how have you been doing since the last time we talked?”
Rebecca: “Up and down. I lost my storage. So I lost, I lost Brian’s ashes and everything else.”
But she hasn’t lost her faith and still goes to church every Sunday.
Rebecca: “I don’t really have anything else I can do but just keep trying.”
Karen Hensel: “How much longer can you keep this up?”
Rebecca: “I don’t know. I don’t like being here.”
Rebecca says Florida has been a living nightmare since she got here but believes she will eventually land on her feet.
The homeless are living at airports across the country. Right now, 108 are staying at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. But it’s not only the homeless who are struggling.
Tomorrow at ten in our special series called Paradise Lost, we look at the cost of home insurance forcing some to leave Florida.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
Rebecca and her son have set up a GoFundMe page. If you’d like to help, click here.
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