Barbara Wheeler; Executive Director of Mid Fl Homeless Coalition

Steve Smith of the advocacy group Housing for All of Lake County hosted a recent meeting at the South Lake Community Foundation with the Mayors and County Commissioners in south Lake County to discuss solutions to the growing affordable housing crisis in South Lake County.  Attendees represented Clermont, Groveland,  Minneola, Mascotte and the two south Lake County Commissioners.

Lt Mark Stauffer of the Lake County Sherriff Dept attended and reported that past evictions averaged 80-100 per month prior to the statewide eviction moratorium.  Lt Stauffer said that Lake County had 95 evictions the previous 6 months and is already seeing an uptick as 9 were evicted last week.   He and the City-County officials all agree that there will be significantly more once the evictions moratorium removed.

Bob Proper, a real estate broker who attended as part of Housing for All, reported that the National Realtors Association recently stated that the average back rent currently due is $5,600.

Barb Wheeler, Executive Director of Mid Florida Homeless Coalition, attended and reported that Lake and surrounding counties can receive up to $4.1 million of monies from the State to cover rent/utilities and case management for those affected by COVID and have been evicted.  This money is to be received July 1, 2021 and has to be spent by June 30, 2022.

For the past 2 years, Mid Florida Homeless Coalition has tried to locate landlords in south Lake County who are willing to rent to those with low incomes.  To date, they have not been able to house anyone in south Lake County.  Mid Florida Homeless Coalition has 58 on the waiting list in Lake County and 8 of these are seniors.

Recently elected Clermont City Mayor Tim Murry reported that one of his top priorities is housing for the homeless and lower-income households as he sees this growing crisis in his city.

The meeting focused on solutions of immediately creating more affordable housing.  Cities and the County were asked to provide funds to purchase existing housing including apartments, hotels, mobile home parks to be able to use the $4.1 million federal dollars for rent, utility, and case management.

All in attendance agreed that the demand far exceeds supply, and Smith has approached numerous realtors seeking suitable properties for sale or lease.

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