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More and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region. In some places, rent has doubled. The cost of everyday goods — like gas and groceries — keeps creeping up. All the while, wages lag behind and the affordable housing crisis looms. Amid cost-of-living increases, WUSF is focused on documenting how people are making ends meet.

Real estate attorney says 2023 could bring an uptick in foreclosures and evictions

foreclosure sign

In the last year, the greater Tampa Bay region experienced an influx of new residents, record-high inflation and the devastating impacts from Hurricane Ian. One real estate attorney in Pinellas says this could mean a tough year ahead for renters and homeowners.

Real estate attorney David Miller, who specializes in debt defense, predicts that eviction and foreclosure rates could climb in 2023.

“I don’t see a real upside in terms of relief,” he said.

In the last year, the greater Tampa Bay region experienced an influx of new residents, record high inflation and the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. All of which, Miller said, is impacting renters and homeowners differently.

In 2022, renters have been stretched thin by cost-of-living increases and month-over-month rent increases making them vulnerable to eviction. In Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, data from Eviction Lab show that eviction filings were up 121 percent in November compared to the average rate.

 

With rental prices showing few signs of cooling, Miller doubts renters will find immediate relief in the new year.

“I don’t think there’s a way to really sugarcoat it,” he said. “From a landlord’s perspective – if they have the ability to raise rent – I think they’re going to do it.”

In Florida counties also hit by Hurricane Ian in September, renters without insurance are especially hurting. In other cases, as reported by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, renters are vulnerable to wrongful eviction after a natural disaster.

“Such evictions are illegal under Florida law but often occur following disasters, when landlords can use the disaster as an opportunity to remove tenants and then rent out units at higher prices to displaced homeowners or higher-income renters,” according to a memo from the the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Florida homeowners recovering from Ian were granted temporary relief by a 90-day foreclosure moratorium, announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The stay on pending actions and new filings applies to affected homeowners in these Florida counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota.

Miller said homeowners who were hit hardest by the storm would benefit from an extension to the moratorium, which is set to expire on Dec. 28.

"Although it's great to have that three month period to, sort of, figure out your next steps, it certainly does not solve all the problems,” he said.

Although inflation showed signs of slowing, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by another half a percentage point this week.

On Dec. 13, the Florida Senate passed a property insurance package that does little to remedy homeowners' record-high insurance rates.

Miller said that many pressures are compounding for renters and homeowners in the greater Tampa Bay region.

"Although I don’t know how it is ultimately going to look," he wrote in an email. "I can’t imagine that it is going to be good for the most vulnerable citizens of Florida."

Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.

I tell stories about living paycheck to paycheck for public radio at WUSF News. I’m also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.
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