News Source: Miami Herald

Author: Alex Harris & Anacaona Rodriguez Martinez

Date Published: June 20

Nora Trujillo ticked off the losses from the flood on her fingers: a computer, a microwave, a television, a couch, most of the family’s clothes and a fan that fell into the foot and a half of floodwater that surged into her Little Havana home. That list doesn’t include her life-saving medicine that needs to be kept cool. When the water rose, short-circuiting her refrigerator, Trujillo wrapped her medicine in two layers of plastic shopping bags and tucked it inside a foam cooler on a high shelf. It survived. The landlord who’s been renting her the two-bedroom, one-bath apartment for 21 years replaced the fridge a week later. For the rest, she’s on her own. “We lost everything,” said Trujillo, 62. “We live paycheck to paycheck. They also raised our rent recently. I would say we lost about $5,000 worth in damages. We’re lost.”
Like any other renter that suffered damage during the flooding rains earlier this month, Trujillo has few options for financial help recovering from the storm. She’s not alone. Most Miami residents are renters, about 68%, according to one estimate. That’s more than New York or Los Angeles. Her neighbor tried to call FEMA for help, but since the rain came from an unnamed storm, there was no disaster declaration to unlock federal aid. That leaves county and city programs, which are few and far between for this specific issue. The city of Miami, which offers financial help for property owners, said renters can call the city’s homeless hotline for help moving to a new, non-flood-damaged apartment. Miami-Dade County offers financial help for residents who can’t afford a rent increase “Renters kinda get left out on both ends — no warning and no assistance,” said Dan Mathis, a housing policy fellow with Next100, a progressive think tank. He said that only seven states require landlords to give potential tenants a heads up if flooding may be an issue. Florida isn’t one of them.