Central Florida counties step in to address housing needs for tourist corridor

VIDEO: Melbourne works to provide permanent housing for homeless

ORLANDO, Fla. — Editor’s note: This story is available as a result of a content partnership between WFTV and the Orlando Business Journal.

Orlando is known worldwide for its theme parks, attractions and conventions — but what’s not as obvious is how severe the affordable housing crisis is in Central Florida’s tourism corridors.

For example, in Osceola County — where you’ll find most of the industry’s older attractions and travel-centered lodging facilities — many families with school-age children are forced to live in hotels. So many travel industry workers have lost their jobs or suffered furloughs because the sector has all but shut down because of the coronavirus.

Content Continues Below

These are people who already barely made it on low wages even before Covid-19. In fact, the tourism industry’s workforce — some 200,000 locally who earn a median wage of $13.60 per hour — often faces large housing challenges. That’s because adults in Central Florida need to earn at least $25 an hour to support themselves and one child, a University of Central Florida Spring 2020 report showed, citing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) living wage calculator. Housing costs alone for a home with a single adult and child amounted to $14,280 — or half of the salary of the average tourism industry worker.

Video: ‘Blatantly unconstitutional’: DeSantis' proposal to increase penalties for protesters met with backlash