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?