By Roger Caldwell
Orlando is a beautiful place to live, but only if you can afford some of the highest rents in the country. “In other words, thanks to inaction on local and federal levels, Orlando’s affordable housing crisis is about to get a lot worse before it gets any better,” says Colin Wolf – blogger for the Orlando Weekly.
Everyone would agree there is a crisis in the Orlando affordable housing market, but very few African Americans know that the Orlando Housing Authority plans to demolish 1,000 units in their community. Some Black folks would say this is part of a plan to move poor people out of the city, but in a council meeting Mayor Dyer said he did not know of any long-term plan.
Orlando was ranked worst in the country for low-income earners to find an affordable place to live, in a report released by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition earlier this month. Many experts think this is terrible, but our Mayor has moved into an exclusive gated community with an exclusive country club, and some wonder if he cares about affordable housing. This country club is old wealthy Orlando family money, and when you study its history, you find it discriminated against Black folks.
I am sure that the policy has changed, but the majority of the members are still Republicans, and affordable housing is not an issue high on their list. Orlando developers are building plenty of new units, but no poor or lower middle-class renters can afford to live there.
“A 2016 study from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing found that 45% of Orlando’s population is renters with a median income of $35,000. This gives them a midpoint rent price of $1,000, which means that most Orlando residents spend the majority of their paychecks on housing, and private developers have no reason to build affordable homes,” says Colin Wolf.
Just recently there was a major fight in a council meeting about “Land Trust” and I wonder if the Mayor’s new home in a gated community has a stipulation for Land Trust. The meeting lasted more than four hours, and many in attendance were upset, because they wanted to own property to pass on to their family. Commissioner, Sam Ings and Jim Gray listened to the community and voted against the Land Trust deal, but our Mayor and other Commissioners did not seem to care.
With over 12,000 Central Florida households on a waiting list for affordable housing, Lorna Doone Apartments, Ivey Lane Homes, Reeves Terrance, Murchison Terrace Griffin Park and Lake Mann plans to be demolished by the Orlando Housing Authority. The majority of the tenants living in these apartment complexes are African American, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development doesn’t have the money to repair them.
Instead of the city leaders fighting for the people who will be displaced, no one is speaking up. The next question on the table is, ”Will these new homes or apartments be affordable housing?” Many developers in the city are saying affordable housing is not profitable, and when our Mayor speaks about diversity; he really means bringing more wealthy people in the city.
This year, Florida’s minimum wage went up 15 cents to $8.25 an hour, so developers don’t want low income renters in their buildings. Gentrification is doing well in Orlando, poor people and people of color are being pushed out of the city. The Black community should be upset about the destruction of their neighborhoods, but the information is kept quiet and secret.
Mayor Dyer does not seem to care about the African American communities in Orlando. Maybe he is busy in his gated community decorating his new home. The Orlando affordable housing crisis is about to implode, “Who has a plan?”