ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — A big rent hike to start the new year is forcing an Atlantic Beach mother and daughter to think about a fresh start in a new home. In the meantime, they’re finding ways to make ends meet.
"Like a normal day, nothing exciting," renter Tanya Griffin said.
It didn’t feel much like the holidays this year for Griffin, and her mother, Lorinda Bishop.
“We didn't do our traditional Christmas present exchange," she explained.
Instead, they were forced to start selling their belongings. And neighbors took notice.
“When you see a sign for an estate sale, usually, you know, it's everything," neighbor Alexia Adcock-Stanford, explained. "They're selling the furniture, they're getting rid of things because somebody has died. And, I was very concerned.”
Adcock-Stanford found out that Griffin and Bishop were hit with a big rent raise to start 2022, for the place their family has called home for more than 30 years.
To make ends meet, Griffin, who has autism, has been holding an estate sale while Bishop works shifts at Publix.
“And help my mom out each buck I can scratch up," Griffin said.
Bishop says her landlord raised the rent from $825 to $1,400 a month – a 70% increase.
“I was like, shocked, scared, not knowing what I was going to do," she described. "It's weighed a lot. You know, I've been praying to God.”
The landlord told First Coast News he had to charge the family more to help cover expenses of a new roof and a bathroom remodel for the home, among other yearly costs.
“He said because things are going up. I know things are going up, and my paychecks not going up," Bishop explained.
“I feel like it's important to, you know, check in on your neighbors and just make sure you know what's going on," Adcock-Stanford said. "We don't always know what's going on in other people's lives."
Since their first estate sale, Adcock-Stanford put a post up on a community Facebook page, which has drawn attention and financial help for the family.
“Thank you, thank you very much. I appreciate it," Bishop said, fighting back tears.
"We truly appreciate it, and everything. You're such kind people, we’re blessed to have nice neighbors to help us out," Griffin added.
They say they’ll continue holding estate sales at their home, 775 Amberjack Lane, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233, to get by while they look for a fresh start in a home they can afford.
You can also help the family by sending them funds through Venmo.
The Venmo account for Lorinda Bishop is @Lorinda-Bishop.
In Florida, there is no cap on how much a landlord can raise your rent. They are just required to give 60-days notice before the end of an annual lease if they plan to hike rent, according to state statute.
If you’re struggling to pay rent due to a hike, there is rental assistance available through government and local organizations, such as:
- Ability Housing Of Northeast Florida and Duval County operates low cost, affordable private rented homes, condos as well as apartments in the region. The main focus is on giving the disabled, elderly or formerly homeless people “supportive housing”, meaning there is guidance, flexibility around rent amounts due, guidance and more provided. Find out more about Ability Housing resources by calling 904-359-9650.
- Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM) provides limited amounts of emergency assistance for paying for food, rent expenses and utilities. Any financial aid is for Beaches residents only. Homeless programs and rehousing assistance can even be obtained. Find out more about BEAM resources by calling 904-241-2326.
- Catholic Charities helps low income, seniors, immigrants, migrant farm workers and others receive emergency grants to pay rent or utilities, help with moving costs or lease application fees, utility connection help, free legal assistance and more. The non-profit has two locations in Northeast Florida. They are at 134 East Church Street, Suite 2 Jacksonville, Florida (904-354-3416 or try 904- 354-4846), as well as 225 West King Street St. Augustine, Florida 32084 (904-829-6300).
- City of Jacksonville's Emergency Assistance Program serves eligible households and individuals who are facing financial difficulties due to an unexpected emergency. The crisis generally involves the loss of a job, loss or reduction of household income, unexpected medical expenses, car repairs, a family dissolution, death in the family or an expense due to foreclosure, condemnation, fire or disaster. The program provides temporary financial assistance to prevent eviction for non-payment of rent/mortgage or interruption of utilities. To make an appointment with program representative, call 904-858-2994.
- Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, or JALA, offers free civil legal aid to low-income and indigent. This can even include housing solutions, such as eviction prevention support or landlord/tenant mediation. Also, get help in contesting security deposits, unsafe housing and accessing government benefits, such as Section 8. Plus, pro-bono attorneys can address housing discrimination and other barriers faced. Find out more about JALA's resources by calling 904-356-8371.
- Jewish Family and Community Services is a social service organization that can help people of all religions. The center provides emergency assistance with paying rent and other expenses such as utilities, FEMA assistance, SHIP dollars for deposits and information and referral to other housing programs. Find out more about the center's resources by calling 904-448-1933.