MIAMI – Howard Perry said he fell on hard times after his pregnant wife and children died in a car crash. He owns a car, but he is homeless in Miami.
Camillus House gave him a hand, and he has a job, but the dream of having access to a one-bedroom apartment feels far away. He qualified for a voucher program, and he is on a waiting list.
“The housing market down here, I have heard that it’s expensive to stay in Miami but now I am actually getting to see what people are talking about,” Perry said.
The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust’s $11 million voucher program receives federal funding. The program’s RentConnect team aims to connect landlords with pre-screened tenants like Perry.
Amid a shortage of affordable housing, the program is having a lot of trouble finding landlords to participate. The program has 300 unused vouchers to be paid directly to the landlords.
“I really encourage other owners to try it and they will see what it is,” said Ana Vazquez, one of the participating landlords. “They are human beings. They are great people.”
The program has a mitigation fund to cover a tenant’s damages and provides the first and last month.
“We have never had anybody — not one time in a decade — need to access our mitigation fund for damages,” said Ron Book, the chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. “Our formerly homeless individuals take care of the property that they are provided.”
Median rents in the Miami metro area shot up 50%. It was the highest increase in the country. Miami’s homeless population was estimated to be about 1,000. There was a 7% increase.
“We need properties,” Book said.
If you are a landlord and want to learn about the program, call 305-349-7368 or e-mail Paul.RentConnect@miamidade.gov.