A family is pictured outside its Habitat for Humanity home in Mount Dora in 2015. The need for affordable housing in Central Florida remains significant. (Orlando Sentinel)
Orlando usually ranks high when it comes to surveys. However, a recent ranking puts Orlando in last place — undeniably illustrating the affordable housing crisis in Central Florida. According to the recently released Affordable Housing Gap Analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Greater Orlando area is now worst in the nation when it comes to finding an affordable place to live, especially for low-income households. According to the report, an Orange County resident would need to work 82 hours a week at minimum wage to afford a modest one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent.
The need for affordable housing in Central Florida is significant and more than likely affects someone you know – a co-worker, your neighbor, a friend or even a family member. The effects of a lack of affordable housing might not be outwardly visible like other life-altering challenges, but they can be just as stressful and debilitating to a family dealing with their impact. Too many people in Central Florida must choose between making their housing payments and paying for other vital necessities like food, medicine or education. That is unacceptable. Your home shouldn’t cost you your health or your children’s education.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat Orlando & Osceola is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes, by advocating for fair and just housing policies, and by providing training and access to resources to help families in need of affordable housing improve their shelter conditions. Habitat homeowners purchase their homes with an affordable mortgage and provide stability for their family.
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It’s not just about hammers and beams, it’s about the strength and stability that each home represents. Having a stable home is the foundation for everything. Affordable housing may increase children’s opportunities for educational success. Affordable housing can improve health outcomes by freeing up family resources for nutritious food and health care expenditures. Economic benefits of increased access to quality housing includes greater tax generation, creation of jobs, opportunities for economic development and increased job retention and productivity. Stable, affordable housing is not an individual intervention. A stable home impacts our community. We all benefit.
We must rise to this challenge together to continue building strength, stability, and self-reliance through affordable housing. All of us working together can build a greater Central Florida community for our family, friends, neighbors and employees. Everyone deserves a decent place to live and you can do something today to help make that possible for more Central Florida families. Support both homeownership programs like Habitat’s and rental programs for those who aren’t ready for homeownership. Promote repair programs to preserve homes which are also a vital component of maintaining affordable housing. And finally, tell our policymakers at all levels of government to support and promote policies to improve housing affordability. Help us make the cost of a home something we all can afford.
Catherine Steck McManus is the President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County.
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