Central Florida has most severe affordable housing crisis in nation, report says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A new report shows Central Florida has the most severe affordable housing crisis in the country, even worse than those in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Some housing advocates have a plan to chip away at the problem that involves building tiny homes or homes made out of shipping containers. You can build them fast, they are inexpensive and you can stack them up.

America's favorite place to vacation just became the worst place in the country for residents to find affordable housing.


"We went the wrong direction," said Shelley Lauten, with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.

A report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows the Orlando, Kissimmee and Sanford regions at the top of the list, just above Las Vegas and the Los Angeles metro area. The report says Central Florida only has about 13 affordable units per 100 families who need them.

Lauten said although it's great we have such a growing economy, wages have not kept pace with the cost of living.

"For people who make $30,000 or less here in Central Florida, we need around 115,000 units of housing just to break even," Lauten said.

Twenty years ago, lawmakers created the Sadowski fund, which takes a percentage from homebuyers to put toward affordable housing.

Lauten said that, for the last decade, "the Legislature has not used it for its intended purposes and has actually swept it to cover the cost of general fund issues."

In that time, $1.2 billion slated for affordable housing has gone to other things, such as like school safety.

"So, while we're doing an incredible job in all the counties of building more affordable housing, again, we have a big hole we're trying to dig ourselves out of," Lauten said.

With 1,000 people moving to Central Florida each week, Lauten said it's been impossible to keep up.

To provide perspective, an affordable apartment complex with about 200 units was recently built in Orlando, and the management received more than 10,000 applications for it.

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