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Priced Out of Paradise: St. Lucie County deputies share heartbreaking eviction stories

'It has been a nightmare,' woman living in car says
Posted at 1:48 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 17:07:57-05

The ninth part in our two-week-long series shows the toll eviction takes — from the perspectives of deputies who must execute the eviction and a mother who is now living in her car

The housing crisis isn't just about numbers. It's about families and children losing their homes.

WPTV wanted to capture the emotion and reality of evictions, giving an intimate look at the human cost of the crisis.

We spent time with a West Palm Beach mother who was evicted and living out of her car. And we were also with deputies in St. Lucie County, who have the tough job of serving the court order.

Eviction notice in St. Lucie County
A St. Lucie County walks to a home to serve an eviction notice.

Evictions happen for all types of reasons.

"Evictions recently have been due to increases in the rent, and they can't afford it," said a St. Lucie County deputy. "We did five in one day."

The woman who is living in her car, who did not want to go on camera or give her name, described what it's been like since she was evicted.

"It has been a nightmare. You're with your kids living in a vehicle. You're not getting any sleep because you're trying to make sure your kids are comfortable," she said. "I can't keep living like this. I'm not saying that I'm going to do anything to myself or my kids, but I just can't keep doing this."

West Palm Beach mom living in car, 'It has been a nightmare'
A West Palm Beach mother discusses what it has been like living out of her vehicle since she was evicted.

Law enforcement said the situation is tough because it affects more than just adults.

"Children are often involved in the evictions too," a St. Lucie County deputy said. "It's one of those things we have to come out here. It's a horrible situation all the way around."

Law enforcement said it's difficult because it's impacting more than just residents.

"You got your property owners losing money, and you have your people that are living here that are losing their house over their heads," a St. Lucie County deputy said.

St. Lucie County deputy speaks on evictions
A St. Lucie County deputy speaks about the difficult nature of evicting people from their homes.

The deputy said he's done as many as five evictions in one day and sometimes they involve families with children.

"Sometimes I go home, talk to my wife about them. It makes you wonder what the kids are going through," he said. "I mean all of these toys, some of them they might have just gotten for Christmas and now they’re just thrown out on the curb, it's harder."

Thirty-four percent of people surveyed by the Census Bureau said eviction or foreclosure is either very likely or somewhat likely.

The website The Eviction Lab has been tracking weekly eviction filings since March 2020 and found there have been more than 71,000 evictions.

WPTV checked in with the Clerks of Courts in four counties.

Right now, in Palm Beach County there are 238 pending evictions for non-payment.

In St. Lucie County, the number is 227, while in Indian River County there are 132 pending evictions. Martin County fares a bit better with 85.

The Priced Out of Paradise series concludes Friday with a segment focused on solutions during the 6 p.m. broadcast.