Alaura Miller regarded herself as a member of the lower middle class until Hurricane Ian cost Florida billions of dollars in damage.
She claims that she is now among the impoverished.
The $1,000 a month mobile home Miller and her 23-year-old son shared in the inland community of Arcadia was so badly damaged that it will need to be torn down.
She said, “We really don’t know what direction we’re headed whether we go out of state or stay,” and stated that if the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not provide rental help, she would have to go to Texas to live with one of her children.
Miller, a retired barber who is 60 years old, struggles to find inexpensive accommodation in one of the nation’s most popular and expensive states to live communities.
According to Anne Ray, a researcher at the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, “Florida entered into this hurricane season already having a lack of affordable housing, particularly for individuals who are working in service industries and other lower income jobs.”
“People who have lost their homes will therefore be in competition with others already looking for inexpensive housing. It’s a very difficult scenario.”
Both homeowners and renters have seen an increase in housing costs recently, according to Ray.
“Rents in Florida have been incredibly costly and rising, especially over the past year,” she remarked. “Moreover, earnings have not kept up. The rising disparity between home costs and what people can afford based on their wages is the overarching trend, thus.”
Miller was able to get a generator on Tuesday, and she intends to stay there until her landlord demolishes the front of her mobile home, which, according to Miller, was less damaged than the back.
The two bedrooms and the kitchen are still there, but we won’t be able to stay here for very long because the landlord will have to tear it down, she said.
Miller claimed that she and her son are unable to afford a more expensive rental due to their limited finances and son’s income as a Winn-Dixie grocery employee. One of the poorest counties in the state includes Arcadia.
Ray claimed that it would be challenging for those who were displaced from Arcadia to locate something comparable elsewhere in the state. According to information published by the Shimberg Center at the University of Florida, the median sale price for a single-family home in Arcadia was $138,500 in the first half of 2021 as opposed to $324,900 for those in the state. In 2020, the median gross rent in Arcadia, which includes both rent and utilities, was $750 as opposed to $1,218 in Florida.
Brenda West, 69, a widowed retired respiratory therapist, rented a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Myakka City for $1,000 per month before Ian torched it. Gwendolyn Gay, West’s daughter who has multiple sclerosis and is in need of her care, lived with her in the house. Both women receive benefits, according to West. The two have been residing in a subpar motel in Bradenton that West has booked through Friday due to a lack of resources and the absence of family in Florida.
She remarked on Wednesday, “I don’t know where I’m going after that.” “I’m about to run out of resources.”
Because West claimed that her daughter’s multiple sclerosis prevents her from sleeping on a cot, the two are unable to travel to a shelter. Additionally, West’s daughter has a terrier that is training to become her service dog, disqualifying them from staying in a shelter. West has applied for relief from FEMA and is awaiting the organization’s evaluation of the damage at the rental home.
Although there are certainly worse off than we are, West continued, “you never know when you’re going to be homeless.” “You never consider that. Before you experience it, you never believe that something like this will happen to you. And then all of a sudden, “Oh my god, it’s real, this is truly happening,” suddenly slaps you square in the face. I had never experienced that before. For many other people, I’m sure, it hasn’t either, but to me, it’s just devastating.”
She continued, “I’ve never been in a situation where I had to worry about where I was going to live or go before.
The mother and daughter who live next door to West’s tenant, Veronica Young, claimed she didn’t have flood insurance for either property. For almost two years, she has been renting to West and Gay. The two properties share a 20-acre plot of land, and according to Young, her house gathered at least two feet of water.
The housing expert Ray claimed that Florida has a robust trust fund for affordable housing that has been used to rebuild communities, especially those that have been severely affected by storms, by providing cheap homes and rental units.
Ray said, “We’ll need to consider how that housing is constructed so that it’s resilient to storms and climate hazards.
Florida will also need to rebuild “in the safest and most resilient fashion possible and in the safest, most resilient places conceivable,” she added, adding that this involves having a diversified housing supply with possibilities for lower paid workers.