Community Law Program’s Mission to Assist Seniors with Rent Hardship Re-fueled by Grant!
Thanks to a $20,000 grant provided by Pinellas Community Foundation’s Senior Citizen Service Funds, CLP will re-launch its Landlord-Tenant Program for Seniors.
At Community Law Program, Inc. (CLP), we are driven by a profound sense of purpose — to stand as unwavering champions for the most vulnerable among us. Today, we share a story of resilience, compassion, and the transformative power of our commitment to ensuring that no senior citizen is left behind.
Late last year, Sheryl, a disabled senior, found herself facing an unforeseen housing crisis. Struggling to cope with her husband’s passing and just beginning a new part-time job, Sheryl fell behind on her rent. To compound her challenges, her landlord notified her of a steep $120 increase in her monthly rent.
In her darkest hour, Sheryl reached out to our Landlord Tenant Mediation Program for Seniors (LTMPS). What transpired next was nothing short of remarkable. Our program stepped in as a lifeline, facilitating mediation between Sheryl and her landlord. Through skillful negotiation and compassionate support, we not only helped Sheryl catch up on her rent but also covered the daunting $120 monthly increase for several months.
Sheryl’s story reflects the experiences of many seniors in Pinellas County, and we knew we needed to do more.
CLP Revives Hope for Seniors
We are thrilled to announce the revival of our Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program for Seniors, a vital component of our award-winning Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program. This resurgence is made possible Landlord-Tenant by a generous $20,000 grant from the Pinellas Community Foundation’s Senior Citizen Services Fund, aimed at providing rental assistance to seniors whose housing crises are resolved through mediation.
Despite an 8.7% increase in social security benefits for eligible seniors at the start of this year, many continue to grapple with soaring housing costs. Shockingly, the 2021 Profile of Older Floridians reveals that 27% of Pinellas County renter households led by individuals aged 65 or older face a high-cost burden. This means they allocate over 30% of their monthly income to housing expenses, a figure that falls at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). For a single person, this translates to a meager $1,437.50 per month or less.
Adding to the challenge is the stark reality that the average rent for a one-bedroom unit in most Pinellas County zip codes hovers around $1,350 per month, according to the 2023 Fair Market Rents published by HUD. For seniors in these circumstances, even a seemingly minor expense, like a rent increase, can push them perilously close to homelessness.
A Beacon of Hope
This is where CLP’s Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program for Seniors (“LTMPS”) comes into play. It’s carefully designed to aid senior tenants with fixed incomes who can meet their rent obligations but face untenable rent increases imposed by their landlords. The program also extends support to senior tenants who can’t afford their rent due to unresolved repair expenses. Through mediation, CLP forges agreements that can be closely monitored and enforced when necessary. Notably, private attorneys, who are also Florida Supreme Court-certified mediators, generously volunteer their time to serve as mediators for this vital initiative.
CLP is currently welcoming new clients into this essential program. The eligibility criteria for senior tenants seeking assistance include:
1. Residing in Pinellas County.
2. Aged 55 or older.
3. Being named on a written lease.
4. Having no pending eviction actions against them.
5. Having a household income at or below 125% of the federal poverty level.
6. Owing no more than $600.00 in past-due rent.
Our Impact Extends Beyond Numbers
Our work is not just about statistics; it’s about changing lives. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of compassionate assistance.
About Us: Community Law Program
Since our inception in 1989, CLP has been driven by a deep sense of responsibility to our community. What started as a small group of St. Petersburg Bar Association members concerned about the unmet civil legal needs of the underserved has evolved into a formidable force for justice. Today, CLP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of programs and services, all aimed at ensuring equal access to justice for those who cannot afford legal representation.
Our Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program, launched during the pandemic, provides holistic services to tenants at risk of homelessness due to eviction. Our Lawyers for Young Adults Project offers free legal services to young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. Additionally, our Advice Clinic Program provides free legal advice, counsel, and assistance with court-approved forms in various civil legal areas, including family law, bankruptcy, housing, probate, and elder law.
In a world often marked by challenges and uncertainties, the Community Law Program stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path to stability, justice, and a brighter future for our cherished senior citizens.
Join Us in Making a Difference
Our journey is far from over. We invite you to join us in making a difference. Support our mission, and together, we can change lives, one senior at a time.
To learn more or to get involved, please visit our website at http://www.lawprogram.org