Community Resource Guide: What to do when you need help in Orlando

Whether you need utilities or help with a bad landlord, we’ve got you covered

Need a new plate? Aye-aye, cap'n!
Need a new plate? Aye-aye, cap'n!

What to do if ...

You need to get/update your driver's license or get ID

You're gonna have to head to your closest DMV — find a location at — and prepare to wait in line. (We know, it sucks.) You can also make an appointment with the Orange County Tax Collector at Or, if you need to review or replace a driver's license, you can also do that online (with a $2 "convenience fee" attached) at

You need to set up utilities

If you're in or around Orlando, you have a few options. The Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) is the public utility in the city. Your other main utility options in the area are Duke Energy, Orange County Utilities and Florida Power & Light. Winter Park, as always, has to be special, so they privatized — some residents will be customers of the City of Winter Park for power and water, and RIP your microwave clock, because that sh*t goes out at least once a week during the summer rains. (Though, frankly, that's just an Orlando thing.)

You need to set up internet

Internet provider options vary depending on where you live, sometimes down to the ZIP code. Some of the more reliable bets (we're being very generous with our use of the word "reliable") are Spectrum, Comcast/Xfinity and AT&T. Not all are available for everyone, though, so you'll have to check! Other options, based on location, might include Verizon, CenturyLink, EarthLink, T-Mobile and Summit Broadband.

You want to get around town

Cool, so you've got several options. There's ride-hailing, like Uber or Lyft of course. Our public transportation system (i.e. the bus) is called Lynx, and it runs in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Fares range from $2 for a single ride to $4.50 for an all-day pass, or $50 for a 30-day pass. Seven-day passes, as well as discount fares, are also available for folks who are eligible (check for details). Moreover, Orlando also has several bike and scooter programs, including Lime, Bird, Wheels, Spin and Razor. Download the apps and save yourself some time if you plan to use one. Be responsible with this public good, and behave kindly while riding. Lastly, there's also Sunrail, the local public train system, with 16 stops running north to south on a single line (

You have a mean, bad landlord

There's a whole laundry list of situations this could be referring to. But the good news is, if you live in Orange County, there's a new Office of Tenant Services to help assist tenants who have bad landlords, or vice versa (we know which one is probably more common). What the office can help with: when a landlord (prospective or current) has violated your rights as a tenant (including discrimination, failing to give you enough notice for major rent hikes, etc.). What they can't help with: direct financial assistance to pay rent, or legal advice. Call 407-836-7368 or visit to learn more.

You're facing eviction

If you think your landlord is trying to illegally evict you — or even if it's a legal eviction, and you just don't know where to turn next — there are a couple of local organizations that might be able to help. If you live in Orange County, the Office of Tenant Services (see above) may be able to offer a referral. You might also find help through the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida (, Heart of Florida United Way ( or the Legal Aid Society (

You (and/or your family) are hungry

If you're going through a difficult time and need to find free/low-cost food for yourself and/or your family ASAP, there are options. One of the main resources in our area is the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida at 411 Mercy Drive. You can also call 211 for assistance, visit a community fridge (e.g. the Orlando Neighborhood Fridge at 5065 Edgewater Drive) or find a longer database of resources at

You need to re-up your birth control, or something feels wrong down there

It's not just the A-word at Planned Parenthood, though there are often some real A-holes protesting outside. Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando ( provides respectful and reasonably priced reproductive health care for men, women and teens (cis and trans) including birth control, STI testing, HIV testing, annual well-woman exams, cancer screenings and treatment, vasectomies, and medical and surgical abortions.

... or, something feels wrong higher up

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Orlando ( can get you the support you need, if you are over the age of 18 and living with mental illness. They can also provide help and hope to families with a loved one going through it. Support groups meet regularly in Maitland, Winter Park and downtown Orlando (en Español as well), and all services are free.

You need emergency assistance

Catch-all option for emergencies: Call 911 for immediate assistance, or 211 for other community services, such as help finding food, shelter or paying your bills. Need the cops? Reach Orlando Police Department at 321-235-5300 if you're within city limits. Contact the Orange County Sheriff's Office at 407-254-7000 if you're not.

You need emergency assistance of a different, longer-term kind

Harbor House of Central Florida ( provides emergency safe shelter at a confidential address, a 24-hour crisis hotline, and counseling and legal services for domestic violence survivors and their families. If you think you may need their help in the future, please program this number into your phone right now: 407-886-2856.

You are powerless over alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex, and ready to stop

The 12-Step groups aren't for everyone, but they are easiest, cheapest, and best-known option, and they have helped millions upon millions of people over the decades. Reach out to the Central Florida Intergroup (407-260-5408 or to find a meeting of people who want what you want: to know peace.

You want to vote someone out of (or into) office

You have the option to update your voter registration when/if you update your driver's license, but you can also register or update your information through your county's supervisor of elections office! For Orange County, that's at


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McKenna Schueler

News reporter for Orlando Weekly, with a focus on state and local government, workers' rights, and housing issues. Previously worked for WMNF Radio in Tampa. You can find her bylines in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, In These Times, Strikewave, and Facing South among other publications.
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