Keitler Pierre-Louis shares his Broward, Florida home with thirteen family members, including five children, one with Down Syndrome. Pierre-Louis owns a home-improvement business, at which he employed most of his family members. When the economy went bad last year, his business dropped substantially and he and his family were unable to afford their mortgage payments. An attempt to negotiate with lenders ended in a loan modification scam that cost him $1,000. The family has officially been evicted from the home, but they don’t have anywhere else to go and are illegally camping out in the house, hoping they can stay beneath the radar until the financial crisis is over. They have been sleeping on the floor on air mattresses, which they pack away along with other essential items every morning when they leave. In the morning they go to the storage unit where they packed away their belongings to pick out clothes for the day. If they are caught, they have no money for other housing and will be forced to live in their cars or in the storage unit.
In 2009 there have been over one hundred thousand foreclosures filed in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. That represents a six-fold increase over 2006. Most former homeowners move in with relatives, or wait out the process in their own homes, since a foreclosure in the overburdened system can now take more than a year from initial filing to final judgment. Children, especially special needs children, in these families are put at a great risk by their homelessness. In most cases the families are reluctant to contact state services because they are afraid their children will be taken away from them.
You can read more about the Pierre-Lois family and other Florida families who have lost their homes in the recession at American Dream strands South Florida family of 14.