Disabled, blind Stuart woman faces eviction due to high rent

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 3:10 PM EST

A disabled, blind woman called WFLX after dealing with a rent increase and a death in the family that is now leading to a possible eviction.

"This is my home," Cynthia Harte, 62, told Contact 5.

Harte has lived in her Stuart apartment for 22 years.

She told WFLX her rent went up in June from $1,600 to $1,900 a month, making money tight, and then she lost her mother in November.

"[I] fell behind in rent," Harte said. "[I had to use] my mom's Social Security check and my Social Security disability check to pay the full thing."

She was unable to pay her rent in December and January. Now, the complex is suing her for that money and $500 in attorney fees, according to Harte.

"I went to the bank and took out the money that I could, but I didn't have quite enough. I'm about $400 short," Harte said. "I'm legally blind, and I'm in a wheelchair, so I can't walk. I don't know where to move to. I've had some people looking around and the prices of rent are sky high, as everybody knows."

Harte called WFLX after seeing the story earlier this month about a new rental study at Florida Atlantic University.

In part, the study found that strict HOAs are contributing to South Florida's affordable housing crisis, often limiting an owner's ability to rent their condo for at least a year, for example.

"We have a lot of units that are just not being made available through associations, and we have a lot of units that have been turned into short-term rental," Ken Johnson, an FAU business professor and real estate expert, said earlier this month. "Both of those are just driving up rent."

People like Harte can't afford those inflated prices. She told Contact 5 she's called the Division of Blind Services in West Palm Beach to see what they can do. She's now waiting for them to return her call.

“They’re gonna get the sheriff to come and change the locks tomorrow, I guess,” Harte said. “I’ve lived in Florida for 52 years, and I’ve never gone through anything like this.”

WFLX contacted the attorney for the complex, and we are waiting to hear back.

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