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Orange County Commission preparing to put temporary rent controls on the ballot, despite consultant’s report

Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla was sharply critical of a consultant's study that recommended against rental stabilization measures. Image: Orange County video

The Orange County Commission does not agree with its consultant that rising rents may be a crisis but not an emergency.

Commissioners decided Tuesday to continue pursuing an emergency rent control measure.

The commission will hold a special meeting later this month to consider an emergency one-year cap on rent increases for the November ballot.

In its report, GAI Consultants opposed rent controls, finding them largely ineffective and potentially counter-productive. Some commissioners were critical of the study, especially for downplaying evictions and homelessness.

Commissioner Emily Bonilla denounced the report as “manipulative” and biased in favor of the rental industry. She took the consultant to task for downplaying evictions and homelessness.

They’re just ignoring all the people who are out there suffering and saying that we’re overreacting,” she said. “But I don’t think that those people think that we’re overreacting.”

Numerous representatives of the rental housing industry along with people struggling with skyrocketing rents spoke during public comments.

Lee Steinhauer with the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando backed the report, saying it comes down to supply and demand.

“[R]ent stabilization as proposed,” he said, “does not address the underlying structural issues driving housing costs, and in fact, as the study notes, may even run counter to solving the issues by deterring production of new housing inventory, exacerbating the problem and creating many other negative, unintended consequences.”

Elizabeth Martinez told commissioners that, despite having a good job, she lives in a hotel with two kids because she can’t find an affordable home.

She says the report failed to take, quote, “profiteering” into account.

“Help us and stop helping the people who have no idea what it’s like to go home to a hotel every day with two children wondering when the hell are we getting out,” she said. “Help us.”

The commission is also considering other measures, like requiring a 60-day notification for rent increases.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.