Faced with one of the most severe affordable housing shortages in the nation, state and local governments are trying to address the issue with at least a half dozen affordable rental projects in Orlando.
Metro Orlando, which includes Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties, ranked third nationally for its lack of housing for extremely low-income residents, a new study shows. Few places in the country have enough rentals for income-challenged residents but Orlando’s shortage is twice as severe as the nation’s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
“You have a couple of things happening. One is that low-wage employment growth is not keeping up with rents,” Andrew Aurand, vice president for research for the coalition, said of Orlando. “The other issue is on the housing side: You see a lot of new apartment complexes but those developments are targeted to the higher end of the market and so it’s not reaching the other end of the market for low-income renters.”
With just 18 rentals available for every 100 very low-income families, only Las Vegas and Los Angeles were more pressed for affordable housing than Metro Orlando, according to the study of the country’s top 50 metropolitan areas. In the four-county Central Florida region, Aurand says, low-income households earning less than $24,000 a year — or $11 per hour for one person working full-time — face the greatest challenge.
But affordability struggles have crept further into the mainstream, affecting moderate-income households as well.
The region’s growing population and drop in homeownership drive up rental costs, creating a pinch that is increasing and affecting multiple income levels, Orange County Housing and Community Development Manager Mitchell Glasser said.
“The rents are really high in our community right now because there is such a strong demand,” Glasser said. “I think that’s affecting everyone — low income and moderate income.”
Jackson Court resident Suz Remus, 58, recently completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix but said she gets mostly job offers to drive for Uber. She has no car.
“They keep talking about the kids coming out of college and how tough it is for them but the baby boomers have it tough, too,” said Remus, who lives west of downtown Orlando near Parramore. “We have a housing gap if we get fired or something changes in our health.”
Funding for future projects appears uncertain with President Donald Trump expected to send budget proposals to Congress next week. Previews by the Washington Post of early drafts show HUD funds could face 14 percent cuts.
For now, governments are in the midst of adding more low-income rentals, particularly in the Apopka area.
Jaimie Ross, president of the nonprofit Florida Housing Coalition, said fair-housing laws require that low-income families get the chance to live in neighborhoods with good schools, stores, safe streets and parks. But she added that they should also be able to reside in decent housing near jobs and family, which can mean areas with historically high poverty rates.
“Families living inside high-poverty areas will be displaced by high-end redevelopment if affordable housing is not built within those areas. We see that in every urban revitalization across the country,” Ross said.
Read complete article in the Orlando Sentinel by contact reporter Mary Shanklin