TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Seniors across Tampa Bay are being kicked out of their homes as landlords look to cash in while the housing market is good.
“It’s happening to everybody,” said Michael Jones. “I’ll be homeless Friday the 31st at 5 p.m. if I cannot find anything.”
Jones, who has lived here in his Hillsborough County apartment for the last 23 years, is one of many elderly residents who are now facing homelessness for the first time in their lives.
“When you’re both over the age of 65, you’ve been here all your lives…you’re not going anywhere,” Jones said.
Jones reached out to 8 On Your side as a last resort, saying he’s been through the “carousel ride” of finding housing assistance in Hillsborough County.
“I got a phone number to call between Monday [and] Friday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.,” Jones said. “Friday of last week, I called them 72 times.”
No one picked up.
We took Jones’ case to Aidza Antonio-Thomas, the executive director of Solita’s House, Inc.
She says, while Jones’ story is heartbreaking, he’s just one of hundreds of seniors fighting the same battle here in Tampa Bay.
“You have one, I have 400 to 500,” she said.
“There’s not housing,” Antonio-Thomas added. “Everybody has a waiting list or if you call, nobody answers the phone.”
She told us elderly residents face even more obstacles, making it harder for them to find housing.
“You have seniors that are sometimes not technologically savvy, so trying to get on the computer to fill out an application isn’t going to work for them,” she explained.
And for seniors living on a fixed income, it’s a whole different ball game.
“So you have to have 3x the rent, but if you’re on a fixed income,” she explained. “With that 3x [requirement], they’ll never qualify.”
Now, elderly residents are having to get creative.
“Their options are—do you have family member? Do you have someone at church that is willing to rent out a room to you? Or you find where a couple of elderly people get together, and try to find a two bedroom apartment,” Antonio-Thomas said.
Jones said he thought his golden years in Hillsborough County would be better than this.
“You want to be able to pay your income to live and survive,” he said.
He has advice for other seniors who are fighting the same battle as him.
“You’re going to have to fight it,” he said. “You’re going to have to look.”
“You’re going to have to hope,” he added.
With time running out, 8 On Your Side was able to find Jones and his wife a place to call home.
The property manager says pending application approval, Jones and his wife Susan can move in by next week.
8 On Your Side plans to meet with Jones again on moving day.