In his two dozen years investigating investor fraud, Michael Fuchs has seen a lot of loss.
But what he’s witnessed in his few shorts weeks on Sarasota’s housing crisis has left him truly stunned.
“It hasn’t taken me long to realize how big the problem is here,” Fuchs said of residents’ dire circumstances.
Fuchs, 64, is the new pro bono attorney focused on housing issues for Gulfcoast Legal Services, which is located in the Venice offices of United Way of South Sarasota County.
Fuchs joined the legal aid agency in mid-June after receiving his Florida credentials, volunteering to assist the office as it handles a surge in eviction cases.
After 25 years with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C., Fuchs had retired in 2021 as senior counsel in the division of enforcement.
Settling in the area with his wife, Sharon, he soon found himself missing the collegiality of a law office and wanting to serve his new community.
Now, after brushing up on Florida’s landlord-tenant laws, he will be spending at least two days a week helping residents facing rising rents and eviction as well as those enduring delays getting insurance checks related to Hurricane Ian.
So far, Fuchs said he has been struck by the region’s housing crisis and the severe impact on his fellow retirees. While in his previous work he dealt with victims of Ponzi schemes or investment fraud that wiped out huge sums of