Ask your legislator the questions on affordable housing

There Is A Serious Housing Crisis In The 'City Beautiful'

Orlando is currently one of the worst cities in the nation when it comes to finding an affordable place to live.

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In the past several months the Orlando Sentinel has been posting articles regarding the current and never-ending crisis of the lack of affordable housing in Orlando, Florida. However, the "City Beautiful" has never considered the low-income people that do most of the working and living here as they invite vacationers to move in and enjoy the sunshine and attractions. As they build pristine high-end neighborhoods like Celebration and Baldwin Park.

According to the recent report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Orlando is currently one of the worst cities in the nation when it comes to finding an affordable place to live. They used government data to figure out how much money full-time worker must make to afford a rental that costs no more than 30% of their income. The report found for every 100 low-income renters who need an affordable place to live in the Orlando metro area, only thirteen homes or apartments are available.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Central Florida was short 115,000 needed affordable units in 2018. These people waiting for housing are living in poverty as the builders ignore the need and target upscale housing and apartment communities. This has a domino effect, as people who can afford a home in the $200,000 to $300,000 range wait for an available house they take space in an apartment that causing the availability shortage even tighter.

However, in 1992, the Florida Legislature created a housing trust fund called the William E. Sadowski Act. This fund receives revenue in two ways, first by a statewide stamp tax on the transfer of deeds, by ten cents for every $100. Then in 1995, they added an additional ten cents for existing documentary stamp tax from the general revenue.

This Act funds various housing programs, the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) receives 66% of the revenue, and the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program receives 20%. SHIP provides funds to local governments to partner with developers for the renovation of existing housing as well as assist in down payments and closing costs. SAIL provides low-interest loans to developers for construction or rehab of affordable housing.

During the housing boom, the Act received an abundance of revenue and was capped at $243M. To make matters worse, the Florida House is set their spending bill and at least a third of its budget will go to the ravage panhandle from Hurricane Michael. Along with pressure from HUD, the Orlando Housing Authority plans to demolish more than 1,000 aging public-housing units and move the residents into a voucher system, displacing families.

The six housing complexes are homes to thousands of families with children and the elderly. They will receive vouchers to use for voucher-based and private landlords and are eligible to move back into housing once it is rebuilt which leaves the already 15,000 households waiting even longer for their homes.

Theses aging units are in and around the Orlando city limits and easy access to public transportation. However, the current transit agency in the Orlando area is Lynx (Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority). The average service wait for a Lynx bus is 60 minutes or more. The lines run from inner-cities to airports, hospitals, college campuses, and Disney. Many of the lines are unreliable as well as unpredictable.

As there is no concern for where these displaced families and elderly might find another place to live, somehow, they also will have to find a better way to get to their jobs, doctor appointments, and downtown to the government offices to apply for assistance. As a resident living in the outer limits of the city beautiful only means you will never see a Lynx bus in a convenient place for use. The cost of a single ride on Lynx is $2.00, with one free single transfer. The average bus ride from one destination to another requires three or more transfers.

How can a single mother with three children find affordable housing in Orange, Seminole, or Osceola Counties and work at one of the big amusement parks and live above the poverty line? How does a senior citizen on a fixed income move and keep within his budget? These are questions for your local legislator. Here is a link to help you find your House and Senate member. New rules should be made to address the builders lack of interest in low-income housing. Why are they allowed to penalize the working class for their financial problems?

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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6 Ways To Save Money As A Broke College Student

Money saving tips so you can afford adult life while also paying for an expensive tuition.

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It is difficult to work, attend college, and make all your payments on rent, tuition, and bills, (not to mention finding a little money to spare on yourself). These are six ways to save that have helped me in this money stressful time and that you should use too in order to reduce the expenses of adulting.

1. Saving money on rent.

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Apartments are cheaper than houses because most include some of the bills in the rent cost. Make sure to check what amenities apartments offer such as free wi-fi, trash removal, or water included. When choosing roommates the more the better for cost. You should get at least one roommate because it is difficult to afford even a studio apartment living on your own. If you want pets you should choose a place that doesn't have pet rent because even if you have a large non-refundable pet fee it is cheaper in the long run then paying twenty a month per animal.

2. Saving money on bills.

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If you choose to live in an apartment complex, having an apartment on a higher floor will make your electric bill cheaper in the winter because heat rises. Even though your electric bill will be higher in the summer you can afford to work more because classes won't be in session. When purchasing light bulbs get ones that are energy efficient and use lights with batteries to help save on the electric bill. Also make sure to turn off all lights when you aren't in the room. You can save water by not running the faucet when you brush your teeth. Anyway you can think to conserve water and energy use that to your advantage.

3. Saving money on food.

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Your best friend is buying in bulk when you go to get groceries. I personally buy ten pound ground beef logs, cut them up, and place them in the freezer to use later. Everything is cheaper when you buy in bulk and you save time grocery shopping. If you don't know how to cook now is the time to learn because frozen and fast food eats up your money. You should also go to your local food bank if you are really struggling because everyone has to eat. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Going without food to pay your rent is not something anyone should have to do.

4. Saving money on furniture.

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You should buy used if at all possible when finding furniture for your apartment or house. Living in a college town has its perks because people are constantly moving you can find great deals at garage sales or on craigslist. For instance I got my couch for free, I just had to move it out of a graduating students apartment. You can also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in your town.

5. Saving money on entertainment.

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There are a lot of deals and discounts for college students so take advantage of that for entertainment.. For example movie theaters usually offer a student discount and if you go to a matinee showing, tickets are even cheaper. Find out when your local bar's happy hour is and use it. Also see what meal deals are offered by restaurants around you, such as 3 items for 10 or specials on Thursday nights. You can also use apps to find coupons, my personal favorite being pocket points because it rewards you for studying.

6. Saving money and side hustles.

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Put back money during the summer in order to have a backup fund for when things get crazy busy during the school year. Scope out banks and find out what interests they offer on savings accounts in order to increase the amount of money you have saved over the years. If you need extra money you can get paid for donating plasma and you can sometimes find research studies that will offer participants cash for things as simple as just an opinion. There are also baby sitting and pet sitting apps you can download to get one time gigs if you are low on funds for the month.

These are all great tips that I have been taught or have learned living as a broke college student. It isn't easy living life in the adult world and pursuing a degree at the same time. I hope these tips will help you save money and keep you out of hard times.

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