MIAMI – Availability is low, rents are anything but and thousands of people are facing eviction.
At Legal Services of Greater Miami, eviction defense attorneys are maxed out with cases and can’t take on new clients despite unprecedented demand.
“Our office is seeing about 80 clients a week contacting us with some sort of problem-related to their housing including evictions,” says Jeffrey Hearne.
One of Hearne’s clients, Darnell Rhodes was facing an eviction battle alone and almost lost everything.
He says, “I just assumed I had a hearing and I’d be fine. The judge just totally disregarded everything,” says Rhodes.
Before COVID19 hit, Rhodes, otherwise known as DJ Willie Dynamite, was working on his DJ career.
“Hotel got shut down, everybody got let go. It got to the point where it was hard to pay the rent,” says Darnell Rhodes of North Bay Village.
“I couldn’t sleep. And on top of that I wasn’t working. I couldn’t find a job.”
He’s one of thousands facing eviction in South Florida. Without the guidance from an attorney, he says he’d be without a home.
As our CBS4’s Ashley Dyer found out, access to legal help with evictions is almost impossible to come by right now.
Attorneys we spoke with say navigating the eviction process without an attorney is nearly impossible. They tell me about 90% of the time landlords have lawyers and only 2% of the time tenants have legal help.
“For every open housing unit there are 31 applications in Miami-Dade County,” says Jeffrey Hearne, Chief Advocacy Officer of Legal Services of Greater Miami.
Darnell started getting help from the county’s rental assistance program but when his check got delayed an eviction was served.
“Nobody should be evicted just because the money hasn’t gotten from one place to the other,”