TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The housing crisis is not just stretching the wallets of families renting in Tampa Bay, it has also led to worsening conditions of properties and affecting the health and safety of its residents.
That’s the case of Maurine Navas, a Hispanic mother living in Tampa, who invited 8 On Your Side’s Tampa Hoy to her home to show us the conditions she’s living in with her 4-year-old son.
“The apartment is in very poor condition, they have never done any proper maintenance, my air conditioning is still bad, things get damaged from time to time,” she claimed.
Navas told us that not only does she have to endure the conditions of the place, she is also affected by her rent increasing almost 30% recently, which has brought her to the brink of having to leave her studio apartment.
“He doesn’t give you the money, even if you have two jobs. I have two jobs and I don’t have the money to pay a decent rent, because I’m not asking for something fancy. It is always said that with the immigration issue that can affect you, one prefers to solve it on their own and not touch those waters,” Navas said. She said she felt unprotected and afraid of denouncing the abuses due to her immigration status.
8 On Your Side’s Tampa Hoy contacted Hillsborough County authorities, who were emphatic about their duties.
“We have nothing to do with the immigration status of anyone who arrives here. That is none of our business,” Jon-Paul Lavandeira, Hillsborough Code Enforcement Division Director said.
Lavandeira told Tampa Hoy that difference of language is also not a barrier and they’re here to help, reiterating that owners of rental homes and apartments have specific obligations to tenants, including the adequacy of the residence spaces, under conditions approved by the county.
“We also have some Hispanic officers who go and deal with direct cases,” Lavandeira said.
If you want to make a complaint or report you can call (813) 274-6600 or click on the following Hillsborough County links:
- Code Enforcement Hillsborough County (For Complaints – English)
- Hillsborough County Consumer Services (Consumer Services – In English)
- Code Enforcement Hillsborough County (Para denuncias – En Español)
- Consumer Services Hillsborough County (Atención al Consumidor – En Español)
Lavandeira said the county has a central number for citizens to call where they can file complaints no matter what language they speak, English or Spanish.