MIAMI (CBSMiami) - As rent hikes continue climbing, more and more people need extra help paying their bills on time.
A Miami-Dade County teacher said her rent shot up by almost 30 percent. She's been trying to get help through the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program but said it's been a difficult process.
"I'm getting a little nervous about it because I'm a single mom who's unable to pay rent on a one-bedroom apartment," said Lucrecia Vasquez, an elementary school teacher and mom.
Like thousands of others, she's in an impossible situation -trying to come up with extra money that she doesn't have.
"My salary doesn't allow me to support myself and my daughter," she said.
She's been an elementary school teacher in the county for 18 years but a 28 percent rent hike has her questioning everything.
"Rent was $1,775 and now it's $2,305," she said.
Asked if she has anything left after paying rent and she said absolutely nothing. It's eating up her savings.
On Wednesday, Miami-Dade county mayors held a roundtable to talk about the crisis and come up with ideas for affordable housing. One of the programs they're directing people to is ERAP.
"Since the pandemic started, we've distributed over 111,000,000 to about 18,000 individuals and families," explained Ignacio Ortiz-Petit, a Senior Executive Assistant at the County's Public Housing and Community Development Office.
To qualify, you need to be making an income below 80 percent of the average median income. Lucrecia applied and qualified but said the process is unorganized and time-consuming, especially for people who need relief quickly.
"Given the number of people that need assistance, there could be delays, there could be a time where you send an email, and it may bounce back. I just ask people to keep emailing," said Ortiz-Petit.
We asked him how to best navigate the county's program. He said have all the required information and documents ready to go.
"We have to make sure you qualify so that the people who need this assistance the most get it," he said.
Ortiz-Petit said they're working around the clock trying to help tens of thousands of families. They still have $33,000,000 left to distribute to anyone who qualifies.
"I know the need is out there, but the aid is out there as well," he said.
The housing crisis is leaving many desperate for help. That's why CBS News Miami wants to share your stories to show the crisis you're in or how you navigated the system. We will highlight these issues and work to get answers and solutions. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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