Sunday, March 20, 2016

Housing Authority Audit Of Gov't-Subsidized Rental Homes Triggers Mass Eviction For 30 Central Florida Farmworker-Families Who Couldn't Provide Proof Of Citizenship/Legal Status

In Pasco County, Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports:
  • About 60 children, most of them American citizens, are being forced to move from a cluster of government-subsidized homes because their parents are undocumented immigrants and ineligible to live there.

    Thirty families, nearly half of those who live in Cypress Farms — a neighborhood of farm-labor housing funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — have been served seven-day notices to vacate their homes or be taken to court for eviction proceedings.
    Within the past few months, the Pasco County Housing Authority, which oversees Cypress Farms, conducted an audit of all the families living in the community [...]. Officials told every family in the development they'd have to come up with proof of citizenship or legal status — a birth certificate, green card or other applicable government paperwork — to continue living there. The 30 who couldn't received a notice to vacate.

    Nancy Wesoff, the executive director of the Housing Authority, hung the responsibility for the situation around the necks of the families who moved in under false pretenses.

    "Keep in mind, all these families signed forms," she said. "When you ask me how did this happen, families signed forms, signed federal documents, stating that they were eligible when they weren't."
    [Margarita] Romo, who runs the local advocacy group Farmworkers Self Help Inc., said she knew families needed to leave and encouraged them to do so to avoid more trouble. She sought to buy them more time than a week to move.

    The seven-day notice, though, is in line with Florida eviction statutes, said Tom DiFiore, an attorney with Bay Area Legal Services, which specializes in eviction law.

    "All we were asking for was some compassion and some time," Romo said. "I just want to make sure the children are remembered, because nobody is considering the children."

    Many of the kids, she said, will have to switch schools in the middle of testing season as their families move around.

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