ORLANDO, Fla. - An apartment complex that provides low income and affordable housing has increased rent for tenants while many are already struggling to pay their current rent.
ConcordRENTS sent a letter to its residents saying in following government guidelines determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, for how much they can charge for rent, the company has increased rent starting April 15.
In the letter, they said they had planned and expected rent would increase in April 2020. Tenants argue rent should not be increased as so many have lost their jobs amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
"Everyone is in survival mode right now. You shouldn’t have to stress out and worry about your rent increasing," said a woman who lives in Country Garden, a Winter Garden apartment complex managed by ConcordRENTS.
The single mom spoke anonymously to FOX 35 News because she feared repercussions from the company. She said the increase in rent is a burden to herself and other tenants. The woman said her rent is increasing from $880 to $925 a month.
"They’re making it harder for us, they’re putting more stress on our lives," the woman said. "They’re putting us in a rock and a hard place."
Rep. Anna Eskamani said while they are legally allowed to raise the rent, she was shocked that they followed through with it given the financial hardships so many in Central Florida are facing.
"They seem to have increased rent around the same time every year and made the decision to move forward with it using an area medium income that I would argue is irrelevant right now because in the last two weeks we've seen unemployment skyrocket across the country and here in Florida creating the environment where people are struggling to pay rent let alone a rent increase," said Rep. Eskamani said.
The letter referenced tenants getting relief checks approved by congress saying, "We want to remind you of the federal assistance that many are eligible for…"
"That money that we’re getting from the government is supposed to be for us to survive," the tenant told FOX 35 News. "Food, essentials and whatever else. Not to be able to use that whole chunk of money to be able to cover our rent."
ConcordRENTS sent the following statement to FOX 35 News:
"Affordable housing rents are established based upon the Area Median Income published by HUD for each Metropolitan Area and County. These Median Incomes are published each year near the end of the first quarter.
"Concord estimates the Area Median Income changes during the 4th quarter of the preceding year and notifies the residents of the estimated rent increases at that time. Upon receipt of the annually updated Area Median Incomes, Concord notifies the residents of any resulting change in the corresponding affordable rents.
"This year that notification was sent out on April 1st immediately following the HUD publication of the Area Median Income.
"No rent increases are due as of this date and no rent increases have been collected. Concord is notifying all residents that the allowable rent increase is currently being waived for those households that pay their rent timely.
"For those households that have experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Concord is requesting transparency with regard to the residents current financial situation and developing individualized assistance programs tailored to the needs of the specific household. Those assistance programs may consist of waived late fees, deferral of rents, waiver or discount of rents, gift cards for basic household necessities and other resources that we may be able to provide.
"The welfare of our residents is of utmost importance and we will continue in our efforts to assist them appropriately."