Marine vet in Daytona Beach fears homelessness
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Steven Raimondi never imagined he’d be in this position: on the brink of a potential eviction, struggling to make ends meet.
What You Need To Know
- Veteran, former New York police officer worries he could be evicted
- Steven Raimondi says he fell three months behind in rent
- Raimondi says he was hospitalized and then his workplace closed due to COVID
- He’s waiting to hear whether Our Florida will provide emergency rental assistance
The Marine veteran and former New York Police Department officer says he used to help serve evictions where he patrolled in East Harlem.
“As a cop, I couldn’t do anything,” Raimondi said. “When I was in those situations, all I could do was try to help find shelter for those people.”
Raimondi used to be the one trying to get tenants out. Now he’s afraid that soon, he might be in their place. He recently fell three months behind on rent, after being hospitalized for a seizure he had while working his former job as a cook. Earlier in the pandemic, he says another restaurant where he’d been working shut down, citing COVID-19 impact.
Each of those events was a major blow for Raimondi, who says he only receives $450 a month from the Department of Veterans Affairs for his post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s working to receive more, and attorneys have assured him his condition warrants it, Raimondi said.
But in the meantime, Raimondi is just trying to keep himself stably housed. After recently receiving a three-day notice to pay his past-due rent or vacate, he’s been searching for other affordable places to live nearby — and coming up empty. Housing costs have skyrocketed during the pandemic, a problem experts say the country can’t resolve without adding more affordable housing inventory.
“I’ve been, obviously, very depressed. And so uncertain of where I’m going to be,” Raimondi told Spectrum News in an interview conducted on Daytona Beach. “I could be under this boardwalk, for all I know.”
The unit Raimondi rents was sold to new ownership earlier this month, property manager Janesa Whelan confirmed to Spectrum News on Friday. She said she doubts Raimondi’s COVID-19 impact, which would qualify him for protection under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current eviction moratorium — but also said, she’s glad he has applied for emergency rental assistance from Our Florida.
“They are really helping out a lot,” Whelan said of Our Florida, adding that between herself and her broker, the federally funded program has helped cover back rent for about 20 of their tenants.
For his part, Raimondi said he was encouraged by how quickly he initially heard back from Our Florida staff when he applied last week, but he’s still waiting for a status update on his application. He’s hoping it comes fast, before he becomes a homeless veteran.
To other renters who may be in a similar predicament, Raimondi emphasized the importance of closely reading your lease, being proactive and seeking help as soon as you can.
“If you feel it coming, definitely be proactive,” Raimondi said. “There are a lot of programs out there that can help.”
If you’re a renter, landlord or homeowner in need of housing assistance, you can check out our breakdown of Central Florida resources here.
Molly Duerig is a Report for America corps member who is covering affordable housing for Spectrum News 13. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.