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Orange County leaders to tackle housing affordability in special work session

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and county commissioners will hold a special work session addressing affordable housing. Residents expressed concern over the crisis at a commission meeting earlier this week. Photo: Orange TV
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and county commissioners will hold a special work session addressing affordable housing. Residents expressed concern over the crisis at a commission meeting earlier this week. Photo: Orange TV

Orange County leaders are meeting Thursday morning to discuss housing affordability in the county. The Board of County Commissioners is meeting to discuss possible solutions to the region's growing housing affordability crisis.

In a special work session, commissioners will hear possible solutions to the housing issue like a rent stabilization ordinance, tenant bill of rights, and other possible options.

Advocates like May Beck with Orlando Tenant Power, an organization of area renters, say the county needs to act urgently.

"The people in Orlando are losing what faith they have left in their elected officials to be able to really tackle a problem as simple as being able to secure housing in the place they call their home."

A proposed ballot initiative before the board -- which has a majority of support -- would impose a temporary cap on rent increases. But May says the county must also look at solutions that put tenants first.

"In any tenant landlord relationship you can find in Orlando, almost nine times out of 10, the property management company or the landlord is not thinking of housing as a human issue," says May. "They're thinking about it as a bottom line to push up. As long as we're treating what is so clearly a social issue, as just an economic thing, we're not going to be able to find a solution to this crisis."

The average rent in Orlando is more than $1,800  a month, according to apartment listing website RentCafe.

The Orange County work session begins at 9 a.m.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program.

Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.