By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read September 2020  — Affordable housing has been a major cause for concern in Florida for decades. Homes in the sunshine state are overpriced by almost 20%, the highest level in eight years, according to a study done by Florida Atlantic University. The pandemic has served as a reminder of just how fragile the line between having a place to live and experiencing homelessness is for families. This past year, Central Florida added seven affordable rental options for low-income households, which has raised the total count to 20, in an effort to subdue this crisis.  

On Dec. 17, 2019, Orange County commissioners signed off on a 10-year plan to create new affordable housing projects, injecting $160 million into a fund with a goal to build 30,300 units by 2029. Among other grants and strategies, developers and nonprofits can seek financial help to build or upgrade low-income properties. “In the end, all those things are going to help, but they are going to have to have dedicated resources,” Shannon Nazworth, CEO of Jacksonville-based Ability Housing, previously told Orlando Business Journal. “There have been communities like Los Angeles that have gotten permission from their populous to do a bond issue to develop affordable housing and meet the need, and if Orange County were to do that, I think the return on investment would be demonstrative.”

Residential Communities LLC and New South Residential LLC are the most recent developments to undertake an affordable apartment complex. Construction on the 77,473-square-foot senior housing facility is set to begin in early September at 5800 S. Rio Grande Ave, according to Orlando Business Journal. This project is one of the many that are needed to help bring more affordable housing options to the region. Families are struggling, perhaps now more than ever, to simply pay rent. To put things into perspective, a minimum-wage worker in Florida makes around $445 per month while the average one bedroom apartment costs around $1,027 per month, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Rent at that price point is simply out of reach even for median-waged workers like nursing assistants, janitors and cashiers. 

While paying rent is difficult, for some people owning a home may seem unfathomable. However, renting a single-family home provides the experience of owning without the costly fees and obligations associated with purchasing a property. As a result, the single-family rental sector is booming in Orlando. “If you can find single-family housing that you can rent that’s within close proximity of multifamily housing, the single-family housing is going to beat it out every time,”  Brad Hunter, managing director of real estate consulting firm RCLCO, told Orlando Business Journal

The rise of rentals could be another form of relief for low-income families. The increase in occupancy will eventually lead to more single-family rental communities being built that then provide more affordable housing options. However, when it comes down to it, the majority of the responsibility to help reduce the burdens of housing costs and minimum wages falls on elected officials. Without the support of the local and state government, deploying a plan to promote affordable housing is left in the hands of developers and the community.