‘It’s time for a change:’ Orange County Commissioner joins discussion on increased cost of living

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — With rent prices on the rise, local hospitality workers are speaking out about how hard it is to keep a roof over their heads.

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Many of those workers shared their stories Monday evening at a roundtable discussion attended by Orange County District 4 Commissioner Maribel Gomez.

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The event was sponsored by Unite Here Local 737, the union representing thousands of hospitality workers at Disney and the surrounding reports.

Many of the heartbreaking stories shared Monday repeatedly told the same tale of struggles to pay rent, keep the lights on, and put food on the table even while working 40 hours per week.

“We think you’ll agree with us that it’s time for a change,” one worker told Gomez during the meeting. “Not being able to afford my rent. I have received probably a late notice five times this year.”

Many who volunteered to speak about their struggles were single parents, explaining the challenge of trying to make ends meet while the cost of living keeps skyrocketing.

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“My lights were turned off and I had my two-year-old daughter sitting with me in the dark,” one worker explained. “My rent went up twice in a matter of months…I couldn’t get my child her necessities.”

In response, Gomez spoke about a rent control measure Orange County Commissioners are considering.

After the roundtable, WFTV’s Ashley Edlund asked Gomez directly for specifics on what people who are struggling to make ends meet can do immediately.

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“What can we do right now is one of the questions that I haven’t received an answer,” Gomez said.

She said she heard the concerns that were expressed Monday evening and suggested partnering with the private sector to help figure out a way to give the people who are struggling affordable places to live so they don’t end up on the street.

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