ORNAGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County residents are concerned over skyrocketing rent, asking county leaders to reconsider declaring a “housing state of emergency” during Tuesday’s county commissioner meeting.
Advocacy groups say tenants need more protection as area rents continue to climb.
County leaders told Channel 9 that they plan to look at more ways to combat the increase.
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“At best, we have been forced into the impossible choice between our safety, livelihood and the county we thought was our home,” said May Beck from Orlando Tenant Power.
County leaders said they’ll discuss a potential rent cap later this week, but the focus of today’s panel of legal experts was to investigate discrimination against those trying to find affordable housing.
“Many victims of housing discrimination can feel helpless,” said Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani, who led today’s panel.
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Housing advocates find housing discrimination against those with disabilities, who are the most prevalent.
“Nationwide, less than 5% of housing is acceptable for those with moderate mobility impairments,” said Katherine Hanson with Disability Right Florida.
Those in the LGBTQ+ community also allege a high volume of unfair treatment.
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Even though the fair housing act protects against discrimination, these advocates said it’s often difficult for renters to fight back because of fears of eviction or retaliation.
Advocates want to see more legal protections.
“For where there are eviction diversion programs, it’s really important those programs are set up in a way to provide housing stability for tenants and not just move eviction cases forward,” said Natalie Maxwell with the National Housing Law Project.
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Housing advocates advise that it’s important to file a housing complaint sooner rather than later, since some renters may be limited to only a year to file depending on where they live.
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