DADE CITY (FOX 13) - Dozens of undocumented farm workers in Pasco County were kicked out of their government-subsidized homes this week following an audit by the Pasco County Housing Authority.
David Lambert, Chairman of the Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners, said the agency evicted 30 families from its Cypress Farms community in Dade City; the residents had to be out by Friday.
The workers were involved in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, which is run through the Housing Authority and provides affordable, subsidized rents to low-income families.
Lambert said the Housing Authority began auditing the Cypress Farms tenants in December. That included some assistance from the Department of Homeland Security, which notified the agency one of the workers was using a fraudulent Social Security card; the Social Security number was also being used by several other people in the U.S.
This led to an accelerated audit, which resulted in the agency identifying 30 people who needed to vacate, including 24 residents who, according to the Housing Authority's attorney, were using fake documentation. Officials said many of them also lied about their immigration status.
One resident who spoke with FOX 13 didn't want to share her identity, but shared her story.
She said many of those evicted were her family members and friends.
"I just think it's just inhuman because, in the first place if it was that case, they should have told us in the beginning," she said, adding she was not ordered to vacate, but decided to move out anyway. "It's upsetting because it's just so inhuman... There's a lot of families and it's just hard to find a house."
Lambert said he's not sure how the tenants fell through the cracks, but placed a lot of the blame on previous administrators. He told FOX 13 the Housing Authority has been under new management for about two years and they have been attempting to clean up "40 years of a mess" by "systematically fixing the problems."
Officials said the number of evictions could go up as the audit continues.
A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, at this point, ICE has not been contacted to look into any possible deportations.