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Consultant to examine sky-rocketing housing costs in Orange County

The non profit Ability Housing is renovating affordable housing units at the Wayne Densch Center in Eatonville. Image: Ability Housing

Orange County commissioners agreed Tuesday to engage a consultant to examine sky-rocketing housing costs in the county. 

The commissioners are considering placing an initiative on the November ballot that would be aimed at stabilizing housing costs.

Commissioner Emily Bonilla is pushing the ballot initiative. Her proposal would limit apartment rent renewal increases to no more than about 5%. 

In the past two years the average monthly rent has jumped by nearly 25%. Commissioners heard from several renters who were struggling to keep up, including Rachelle Edee Pierre. 

“Right here is another increase for this month. Absolutely no preparation was made. I am a single mother of two wonderfully made sons and a 13-year-old brother.” 

Bonilla and several other commissioners described the situation as a “crisis.” State law prevents rent controls except where there is a housing emergency. 

But Robert Arnold, a local landlord, says rent controls are not the answer. He cited rising taxes and property insurance rates for landlords. 

“The only solution that I can see with this whole dilemma is to possibly loosen up the zoning and the building density requirements. I would certainly hope it would allow more apartments in tighter spaces. And also giving some sort of affordable housing tax breaks to landlords if they pledged to keep rents at an affordable rate.” 

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »