affordable housing

‘We Will Step Up': Miami-Dade Mayor Vows to Tackle Housing Discrimination

NBC 6 Investigators found housing complaints into the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights rose this past year.

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Landlords across South Florida have raised rent prices to historic levels, pushing many people out of neighborhoods. And as a recent NBC 6 investigation revealed, more people are reporting discrimination when applying for housing in Miami-Dade County.

It’s an issue that caught the attention of Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

“We know that landlords are increasing the rents at record levels. Any discrimination is not to be tolerated,” Levine Cava said.

Miami-Dade County has a specific office dedicated to fighting housing discrimination – the Commission on Human Rights.

Levine Cava told NBC 6 she is looking into expanding the office’s resources and wants people to file complaints if they feel they’ve been wronged.

“It is really important that people let us know if this is occurring and we will step up,” Levine Cava said.

NBC 6 Investigators found housing complaints into the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights rose this past year. Records obtained through a public information request show the commission received more than 370 allegations of discrimination in 2021 and 14% of them were related to housing.  

In the first three months of 2022, almost one in four of the 82 cases were housing related.

Erin New, the director of the commission, told NBC 6 Investigators there’s not just an increase in housing complaints but also an uptick for those related to “source of income” - often targeting vulnerable groups. 

“The majority of our complainants are members of traditional underserved, disadvantaged groups. People of color. People with disabilities. Members of the LGBTQ+ community,” New said. 

Housing discrimination allegations are on the rise in Miami-Dade County as rent and home prices continue to increase. NBC 6's Phil Prazan reports

NBC 6 heard from dozens of people in South Florida struggling to find an affordable place to live. Sometimes, even with government assistance, like Keisha Guyton.

“There’s a lot of Section 8 people that are going to be homeless,” Guyton said.

NBC 6 Investigators found similar trends across the state of Florida.

Accusations of landlords violating the Florida Fair Housing Act are on track to surpass the amount from last year: 223 in 2022 so far, and 634 in all of 2021, according to the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR).

Records provided by the FCHR show more people have already filed complaints in Broward County this year than in 2021 entirely. The state’s commission have received 45 discrimination complaints in Broward so far in 2022. There were 31 complaints filed in 2021.

State law doesn’t ban discrimination for “source of income,” gender identity, or sexuality like Miami-Dade County.

Levine Cava called the increase “unacceptable.” 

“Thank you for your important work on this. It is really critical to call attention to the fact this hot housing market can jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of our working families,” Levine Cava said.

The Mayor’s administration also created the Office of Housing and Tenant Advocacy to enforce a “Tenant’s Bill of Rights” she is supporting at the County Commission.

“If people can’t afford to live here, we can’t sustain our growing economy,” Levine Cava said.

If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a case here with the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights or the State of Florida.

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