In the aftermath of the Surfside tragedy, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is promoting a consumer hotline to help Floridians affected by the deadly condo collapse.
Holding a media availability at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer (FDACS) regional office in Plantation, Fried discussed consumer protection issues in the wake of the Surfside condo collapse, noting action taken by the FDACS Division of Consumer Services, the state’s consumer protection agency. Fried also touted the hotline on Friday, noting FDACS commitment to connecting individuals impacted by the Surfside collapse with consumer protection services.
“We remain heartbroken for the loved ones, survivors, and community of Surfside, and we thank the first responders who put themselves in harm’s way. We must focus on preventing future tragedies through the necessary state and local fixes on inspections, and it’s absolutely necessary for the Governor to establish a statewide task force to review the situation,” said Fried. “We want everyone to know that FDACS is here for you, and we’ve begun dedicated tracking of condo and HOA-related consumer calls. With the outpouring of support as families heal, we want to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of generosity, so we encourage everyone to give safely with our Check-a-Charity tool on our website. Floridians come together after tragedies, and together, we will look ahead to save lives and make communities safer.”
Fried’s call-to-action comes after Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, unexpectedly collapsed on June 24. Tomorrow marks one month since the tragic event, which took 97 innocent lives.
To date, Florida’s consumer protection hotline has received 53 condo/HOA-related calls since last month. Floridians are encouraged to report concerns about condo buildings or HOAs to the FDACS Division of Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA or online at FloridaConsumerHelp.com.
FDACS also says they’re monitoring and in discussion with 25 charities newly formed or claiming to support Surfside victims and families. All charities raising money in or from Florida are required by law to register with FDACS as the state’s charity regulator.
Fried, a prominent Democratic gubernatorial candidate and outspoken critic of Governor Ron DeSantis, has been vocal in recent weeks about the disaster at Surfside. Earlier this month, the lone statewide Democratic pointed to the state’s culture of deregulation playing a part in the condo’s collapse. Fried, who looks to assume the mantle as Surfside’s voice of reason, said FDACS will continue to look for solutions to prevent another deadly tragedy from occurring.
“Our division of consumer services has begun dedicated tracking of consumer complaints related to condo buildings and homeowners associations,” Fried said in a video posted to Twitter.
We remain heartbroken for the #Surfside community, and must take action to prevent future tragedies.
We’ve begun tracking condo and HOA issues on our @FDACS Consumer Services hotline, so report concerns at:
— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) July 23, 2021