Orange County voters have an opportunity on November 8 to help local residents cope with the rapid increase in costs of living in a tangible manner while helping the state’s economy from potential contraction. Florida has seen escalating rent and property insurance costs, which impact Floridians negatively, while insurance companies, landlords and corporations all profiteer from the current emergency which shows little sign of abating soon.
Contrary to the scare-mongering coming from the opposition, which includes landlords and corporate entities but probably most notably includes the Florida Association of Realtors and the Florida Apartment Association, whose campaign cash has been largely responsible for the lack of common sense policy locally and statewide, this initiative is straightforward and will last for one year from enactment.
Here is the ballot language:
Rent Stabilization Ordinance to Limit Rent Increase for Certain Residential Units
“Shall the Orange County Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits rent increases for certain residential rental units in multifamily structures to the Consumer Price Index, and requires the County to create a process for landlords to request an exception to the limitation on the rent increase based on an opportunity to receives a fair and reasonable return on investment, be approved for a period of one year?”
That language is straight, to the point and allows for a process where the county can make exceptions.
Here is why now is the time for this: Florida’s rising housing costs and the number of out-of-state investors buying properties with profit in mind is also impacting rent. The current market has already led to low-wage earners who keep Florida’s tourism and service industries alive (in a state whose economy has grown LESS DIVERSE even as the state has more than doubled in population since the 1980’s) to flee Orange County and head to far-flung areas of Polk, Volusia and Lake – or leave the state entirely.
In Orange County, some tenants saw increases as high as 90% over the previous year with most increases averaging around 25% from last year. This is well above the national average.
One Orange County young resident we spoke to last month, left Orlando to go live with her parents out-of-state and now is looking to return to the area by moving to Polk or Lake County while hoping to work in Orlando.
Meanwhile, the Florida GOP & Governor Ron DeSantis have consistently failed to even mention housing affordability publicly, much less take any action at the state level to deal with it. Time and again legislation that was to stabilize rent, or deal with the various aspects of the housing crisis in the state die without a hearing. In fact, in the last two sessions, the Florida GOP permanently stole from the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust fund (which is meant for affordable housing rental developments) & redirected $100 million into a Florida Realtors Association shady first time home buying program that directly benefits the people who helped cause this critical emergency & who are profiting off of our own demise. This also directly benefits the lobbyist organization that is largely responsible for preventing any real action on these issues.
Local governments throughout the state are being forced to use all of their governmental powers to deal with the emergency that leaders in Tallahassee are refusing to acknowledge. Once again, when urban Florida, the lifeblood of this state’s economy is needing help, State Government either refuses to do so, or gets in the way.
Unsurprisingly, the Florida Association of Realtors, the Florida Apartment Association the Florida Apartment Managers Association (who represent landlords and property managers paid by landlords) are suing the Orange County Commission & Supervisor of Elections to prevent the question from being decided by Orange County voters in the wake of this growing emergency. We fully reject the arguments made by these organizations and choose not to dignify them by articulating them here- however in the run-up to the November election, we plan to fully debunk the narratives coming from these organizations.
We encourage a yes vote on this ballot question.