KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Monday was the first day people at Good Samaritan Village in Kissimmee were allowed back in their homes after nearly a month under a mandatory evacuation order. But they’re already being told, they’ve got to pay up.
Miguel Velez says he used to be a maintenance worker. He lives at Good Samaritan and retired back in January. But he says he’s come out of retirement to help his neighbors.
Why? Because Good Samaritan won’t, he says.
"It was borderline criminal, what they did," said Shorty. "It’s wicked. How can you do that? These people need your help."
Good Samaritan issued an update Friday afternoon, telling residents rent had been on pause while everyone was evacuated, but now that they’re back, so are the fees.
There’s been some confusion about that, though – some people heard they had to pay for four days out of the previous month too, but others hadn’t heard that.
Velez says some of his friends are purposely planning not to pay.
"Because if you don’t pay, obviously they’re going to come and see you," he explained. "So they’re saying, ‘I’m not going to pay until they come to the house, and then I can ask the questions I want to ask them. Because they’re not giving any answers.’"
FOX 35 also talked with another man, the son of a resident, who didn’t want to go on camera. He said in a text, "It’s really upsetting that when you’re trying to get things back to normal, assessing damage, dealing with insurance companies, trying to get help from FEMA…. It’s disheartening that they would start charging rent so soon."
There are six neighborhoods in the Village that the property managers say they aren’t repairing – people weren’t given a choice to return there.
Instead, they’ll be given a termination notice of their lease and have a refund of their security deposit sent to the address on file.
"If Good Samaritan would’ve dealt with us in good faith and say, ‘Listen, we’re going to help these people out,’ with soup, food, water, clothing – then maybe they wouldn’t be looked at the way they’re looked at, because they did nothing," said Velez.
"Property managers are knocking $100 off the cost of rent because amenities like the pool aren’t available, but a lot of people we spoke with say that is not enough.
FOX 35 News has reached out to Good Samaritan and is waiting to hear back.