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Orlando's lower-income renters are spending nearly 64 percent of their wages on housing

Colin Wolf Sep 6, 2018 16:11 PM
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It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the Orlando we all know only exists because of cast members, servers, hotel workers, and just about everyone else making near minimum wage. But according to a new study, most of them cannot afford to live here.

A report released Thursday from real estate website Zillow shows that renters in the Orlando area are being absolutely gutted by rent. From 1985 to 2000, the average percentage of income spent on rent in Orlando was 22.7 percent. However, in the second quarter of 2018, that number has now jumped to 31.5 percent.

For lower-income renters in Orlando it's even worse. In the second quarter of 2017, lower-income residents were paying a staggering 63.7 percent of their wages on the even the most modest bottom third of affordable rentals.


For some perspective, spending more than 30 percent of your income on rent is considered "rent burdened." According to the nonprofit National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 46 percent of Orlando residents are currently renters, and nearly one out of three of these renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

This means a large portion of renters in Orlando either need to find roommates, apply for housing assistance, or take on another job, options that are often not feasible for everyone (i.e senior citizens, single parents, the disabled, etc).

While Disney workers are currently fighting for a $15 minimum wage (which they deserve) according to the NLIHC, a worker in Orlando needs to make at least $16.33 an hour to be able to even be able to afford a basic studio apartment.

Obviously this is a far cry from Florida's current minimum wage of $8.25, and Orlando's massive rent baggage can be attributed to a multitude of factors. But arguably the biggest contributor is stagnant wages, which aren't keeping up with our city's rising home values. According to a recent study, average rental costs in July jumped a historic 7.7 percent in Orlando. On top of that, Orlando has the uniquely terrible blend of claiming both the third lowest average median household income in the country, and an borderline "overvalued" housing market.

Of course, none of this is new, and we've written about Orlando's affordable housing issues extensively. But it's safe to say that things will likely get much worse before they get any better, especially since last quarter Orlando's job growth was led entirely by low-paying service gigs and The City Beautiful is projected to have 50 percent less available apartments by the end of this year.

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