Rally draws attention to Florida’s housing crisis

Monday’s rally on the steps of the historic Capitol drew a diverse crowd. Photo courtesy: Zarria Hill

A press conference and rally were held Monday on the front steps of the historic Capitol to address the state of emergency housing crisis and the ways it is impacting the people of Florida.

The event was organized by Tallahassee community activist Trish Brown.  Brown is the founder and lead organizer of the Power Up People coalition, an organization devoted to empowering people in the community.

Many speakers shared their testimony about the housing crisis they were facing alongside other citizens in the state of Florida.

Some of the speakers were people impacted by the canceled eviction moratoriums, Power Up People coalition, NAACP, Tampa Rising Coalition, House members Dianne Hart and Susan Valdes, and many other legislative members and supporters.

Since the housing crisis, many Floridians have found themselves deeper in debt, facing evictions and the possibility of joining the state’s growing numbers homeless.

Some citizens explained how they have struggled since the start of the pandemic two years ago.

One woman, who told the audience her name was Bernadette, shared her story on how the housing crisis has left her with little to nothing.

“I’ve been homeless since 2014,” she said. “I came from Jacksonville to Tallahassee to find housing because I was sleeping on the church ground and on cardboard boxes for about three years. I was kicked out of my apartment for no reason, even after following all the rules. I just recently got kicked out of my recent apartment for no apparent reason.”

She explained how she has low income, and the majority of her money goes to rent. She said she is left with very little money to buy anything. She also said that when they go up on her checks, they go down on her food stamps, so she has limited food stamps.

“I don’t know what is going to happen, but we need more money or free housing for disabled people,” she added.

Brown explained that long before the pandemic, poverty impacted working class people in all communities throughout the state who have been struggling to stay afloat, desperately trying to keep food on their tables, clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads.

“The legislative session is just ending, and Governor DeSantis could have created and pushed bills to end rent and property gouging that would have penalized slumlords. Governor DeSantis could have pushed for rights and protection of renters, and home buyers, while preventing the greed that plagues our communities,” Brown said.

“While COVID-19 is still running rampant in our communities, people are dying and being pushed to their very limits,” she added.

For more information about the event, follow their Instagram page at PowerUpPeople.