MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At the 11th Judicial Circuit, the rent hikes over the last year in Miami-Dade County priced lawyers and support staff out of homes in need to find higher-paying jobs.

“In one year, we’ve lost 92 lawyers,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Imagine the impact of that.”

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Rundle sees firsthand how inflation led some lawyers out of her office to find new work to pay the rent.

“Nothing like this,” added Rundle.  “This is beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed.”

Recent data from Rent.com shows a 35% increase in rent costs in Miami within the last 12 months.  When speaking with attorney Rundle, she says staff departures connect directly to the rise in rent in Miami.

The hidden cost – delays in helping victims seek justice.

“Delay, delay, delay – while their trauma continues to fester,” Rundle said.

Over at the public defender’s office, Carlos Martinez sees a similar turnover, losing 62 attorneys over the past year.

Turnover makes it difficult for the defendant to build trust with a new attorney.

“It’s impossible,” said Martinez. “Imagine if you’re accused of a crime, and while your case is pending, you’ve had six to eight lawyers handling your case. And they keep passing it on to somebody else because those people are leaving.  It’s an untenable position.”

Martinez stumbled into public defense by happenstance. Years ago, while a law student, he was late to a class serving as a witness to a car wreck. That day was picking your summer internship assignment.  He was the last to class and to choose. He ended up in the public defender’s office. He’s never left.

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“I felt like I was back in church growing up,” said Martinez. “In terms of the people we were helping, they would come to us. There was no judgment involved.”

He sees the same passion and compassion in his current team – one dealing with a significant backlog in open cases without adequate staffing.

“It went up from the normal 11,000 to 20,000,” said Martinez.

He says it’s back down to 16,000.

The wheel of justice remains delayed with fewer state lawyers available.

“Each of us depends on what I call warriors in the courtroom,” Rundle added. “They are the ones that protect the community and find justice for the victims.”

The newly passed state budget bumps pay for state prosecutors and public defenders up to $10,000.  It also provides an increase for support staff.

It’s an effort to combat the affordable housing crisis. Both Rundle and Martinez believe it’s a start, but there’s a need for salaries to adjust to living costs. And for Miami to create affordable housing for the workforce in their field and other professions.

Here’s a statement responding to the city’s affordable housing efforts from the Department of Housing and Community Development City of Miami:

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“For many years, the City of Miami via its Dept. of Housing & Community Development, has provided funding to private developers to build and/or rehabilitate affordable housing within City limits. The City funds a portion of the total cost of the project and in return, the developer provides a specific number of affordable rental housing units for low-to-moderate income families. The owners of these properties manage their own application process and waiting lists. The City of Miami Commission also continues to allocate Miami Forever Bond (GOB) funding, passed by voters in late 2017, towards the development of affordable and workforce housing within the City. From 2015 to date, the City has invested $66,328,488 that has produced 3,422 units of housing (1,492 presently in different stages of production) for low income residents in the City of Miami.”