April is an African American mother living in Overtown, a small neighborhood in Miami, Florida. In the 40 years she’s lived in Miami, she’s moved six times. Two years ago she lost her job and, with it, her apartment. Lacking options, April ended up living on the streets with her children. She was able to find a one-bedroom, dimly-lit apartment, where she currently lives, and shares the space with three adults and six children.
The apartment is tiny. April and her children are forced to share beds and compete for space. Unable to pay the water and electric bills, April, her family, and her housemates watched as food rotted in the fridge, and water service, for bathing and drinking, was shut off. To make things worse, their home has problems with pests, broken doors, and walls riddled with holes. When she reported these issues to the landlord, he said he would fix it – but he never did.
Stories like these are all too common in the City of Miami, where low-income renters are living in substandard and uninhabitable conditions. Renters in Miami comprise 64% of the population, yet their needs are often ignored by landlords, policymakers, and elected officials.
DataCenter teamed up with Power U Center for Social Change and the Community Justice Project (CJP) to address this issue – to gather data to amplify the voices of people like April. Collaboratively, the coalition designed a comprehensive renter and housing survey.
Through trainings and support from DataCenter, Power U collected and analyzed 954 surveys throughout Miami’s low-income neighborhoods. The findings portray the disheartening picture of the conditions faced by low-income residents. Tenants lack affordable housing, suffer from badly maintained buildings, and are afforded few if any renter protections.
Comprising almost two thirds of the city, the needs of renters should be prioritized by housing advocates and city and county agencies. They must address the issues of affordability, lack of renter protections and substandard housing conditions that put families at risk. The findings of the survey are really a mandate for the city of Miami to work together to improve access to quality and affordable rental housing in all of Miami, for all residents.
For the full report, download the PDF here!