By Bobeth Yates

HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – About 40 Hialeah residents made their voice heard Wednesday night, chanting “we’re here and we’re not leaving” to protest a rent increase.

“Our rent was like $850 for a long time. Then they slowly incremented it to $900, $950. And last year, it was a thousand,” said Rachel Rubi, a resident at the building which sits on the 1500 block of 42 Street in Hialeah.

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Days before Christmas, Rubi says residents were informed by the owners who purchased the property in December that come February 1 their rent will jump once more, this time from to $1,650, a 65% increase.

“Distraught, but also not surprised. I saw them do this to the Black communities. It’s coming for the Latino communities. It not a surprise it’s just really infuriating,” said Rubi when asked how she feels about the rent increase.

She’s lived in the building 24 years. Rubi, and many of the other families who have also been there just as long, are on fixed incomes and cannot afford the increase.  The group isn’t alone. Rising rent has become a major concern for many south Floridians.

“Luckily, the state of Florida everybody wants to move down, but what you see is the real effect of people who have lived in their apartment, for in this case 20, 30 years, and now they’re forced out because they can’t pay these new rents,” said Hialeah City Council member Bryan Calvo.

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Realtor Brittney Woods says the increase is partly the result of the pandemic and people relocating to the area.

“We have more people looking for rentals than rentals available. So what we’re finding is that what is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom that would on average would be somewhere about $1,900 to $2,000, it is now up drastically,” said Woods, who added that rent has increased so much it is not uncommon to find one-bedroom condos in Brickell, Aventura and on the beach to be priced at $5,000.

Florida doesn’t have rent control, so landlords have found themselves in the position where the previous two years due to coronavirus they’ve had to make adjustments. They’ve had to go months without accepting any rent not there just trying to offset that.

But as landlords pass on the increases, Rubi and the other Hialeah residents say enough is enough.

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“Treating our community this way is not the way to go I think people love Hialeah it’s culture so if you love someone’s culture you should love the people,” Rubi added.