Miami-Dade proposes solutions for tenants affected by housing crisis

City of Miami (Photo via Unsplash)

With inflation on the rise, skyrocketing rent costs have driven thousands of locals out of South Florida — and particularly Miami-Dade. Miami has become the hub for most northerners and other migrants this year. Although one might expect this to benefit the city, its locals are pleading for Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to take action on Miami’s housing emergency.

Miami influencer Jocelyn Castillo became a victim of Miami-Dade’s housing crisis earlier this year. Castillo lost her apartment in Edgewater and began to share her story on social media, gaining immense traction on Tiktok. “I received hundreds of direct messages after posting an apartment tour sometime last year. Seeing that so many people are moving to Miami, I decided to put an offer on my apartment.”

Castillo made the offer in October 2021. In the meantime, she paid her landlord on a month-to-month basis. “I went two months without hearing back from my landlord,” said Castillo.

A week before New Year’s, Castillo received a text informing her that her rent would double in price. She continued to emphasize her interest in purchasing the unit, to which the landlord initiated an off-market deal. Seeing the landlord’s positive response relieved Castillo’s anxiety, but then things went sour.

“I didn’t hear back from my landlord until the first week of February,” she said. “I got a text saying they’ve decided to pull back from the contract. Instead, they’ve been advised to list the apartment as a rental for double the original price.”

Castillo was given a one-month ultimatum.

“There’s no way I could find a property in just one month,” Castillo says.

According to a Miami-Dade County news release, on March 17, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava held a signing ceremony for Commissioner Eileen Higgins’ housing notice bill. This bill requires that landlords provide tenants with at least 60-days’ notice of increasing rent by more than 5%. In addition to the signing of this bill, the required notice period for evictions was extended from 30 to 60 days. “Fair notice gives families more time to prepare,” said Commissioner Higgins.

“Giving families more time is crucial and just,” said Miami-Dade real estate broker Zulma Hernandez. “However, with Miami-Dade’s evident housing shortage, 60-days notice may not be enough. Many families don’t have the means to relocate in the first place.”

With a shortage of homes and condos, buyers and tenants are doing whatever it takes to get their hands on properties. Castillo experienced this same hardship once she took off on her apartment-hunting journey, “I had to compete hard with other buyers.” 

On Friday, April 8, Levine Cava announced that $13 million in additional funding will be provided to the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The ERAP is currently accepting applications to provide struggling tenants with rental assistance for up to 18 months.

As Levine Cava declared a countywide affordability crisis, she introduced the Building Blocks program. It will aid in the acceleration and discovery of solutions to the housing crisis. “Through the Building Blocks program, Miami-Dade County will invest in two simultaneous tracks – both increasing the supply of housing units and a comprehensive sweep of renter protections,” she said.

As a result of this housing crisis, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kionne McGhee proposed legislation to establish rent stabilization. This study was approved by the Public Housing and Community Services Committee in a 3-2 vote. It is through this proposed study that the Miami-Dade County will be able to prove that a housing emergency exists and can only be remedied through rent stabilization.

“Our residents shouldn’t have to choose between being able to feed their family or paying their rent. We must enact legislation to limit how much landlords can charge residential tenants to help curb this housing shortage and emergency affecting our residents,” said McGhee. 

“As a real estate broker, I’m able to analyze the situation from both the buyer and tenant’s perspective,” commented Hernandez. “It’s difficult to say whether rent control would be the ideal solution for all parties being affected by the housing crisis.”

Levine Cava says more aid is coming to Miami residents, “The steps we took today to address the affordability crisis are just the beginning. You have my word — my administration won’t rest until we bring relief and real solutions to the people of Miami-Dade. There is no time to waste.”

Daniella Hakim is a Sophomore at Florida International University majoring in Digital Communication and Media. She looks forward to pursuing her passion of writing as a journalist.