ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — A generous WPTV viewer stepped in after WPTV shared the story of a woman who's been living out of her car because of high rental prices.
WPTV first met Diane Thomas last week when she was living out of her car because of what she said were rental prices that she can't afford.
"I do work, I work, but it's a little over my price (range) right now," Thomas said.
After seeing the story, an anonymous donor stepped in. He paid for Thomas to stay at a hotel in Royal Palm Beach for the week.
"For these couple days, I promise you, I have felt better than I have felt in the last six months," Thomas said. "I slept for two days. I took a hot shower. … But [there's] still good people out here."
In a series of emails, the good Samaritan told WPTV that, on top of paying for the hotel, he is also working with a family member who is a real estate broker. They're trying to find Thomas an affordable home.
"I've been looking at apartments, but, like, I keep paying the money that I don't have for the application fee," Thomas said. "It's gonna be up to $175 just to tell you, 'No, I found somebody with a higher income.'"
New research from Florida Atlantic University released this week found that an abundance of short-term vacation rentals and restrictions from homeowner and condominium associations are contributing to the ongoing rental crisis in South Florida.
"Both of those take units out. They drive up the average rate," Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at FAU, said. "We have to build more units. We're not building anywhere near the number of units that we need for the amount of people that are coming in."
For people like Thomas who are longtime Florida residents, that's pricing them out of the Sunshine State.
"I'm really in a situation right now," Thomas said. "So I need help and I thank y'all for everything."