SANFORD, Fla. – A handful of events were held in various counties in Central Florida to raise awareness about the ongoing housing crisis, as well as programs and resources that may be available to people struggling to pay rent or purchase food.
Florida Rising, an advocacy group focused on economic and racial justice, hosted events in Osceola, Orange, and Seminole counties simultaneously on Sunday.
People shared stories of their own concerns or struggles when it comes to paying rent, putting food on the table, or having to get a second job.
“I have one job, but sometimes I’ve thought about to doing DoorDash just so I don’t have to worry,” said Rosalyn Santiago-Felix, a single mom, in front of Sanford City Hall.
The “Justice on Every Block” events sought to educate people on rental assistance programs and other services to help keep people in their homes.
“There’s always something that they have to try to hustle in order for them to not lose their home or warm food on the table,” she said.
Traci Blue, a member of Florida Rising, said they’re hearing more and more stories of landlords not renewing peoples’ leases in order to rent them to other people who are willing or able to pay more.
“We’re seeing more of the non-renewals at places because landlords just want to get people to head out and get some more people in who can pay more money because housing prices are skyrocketing,” she said.
As home values continue to rise, so does the number of people unable to keep up and are on the verge of homelessness.
It’s why many want the passage of a so-called “Tenant Bill of Rights.”
“A 60- or 90-day notice before rent increases and also to make sure that the rent doesn’t increase above what the affordable rate is,” said member Ed Measom.
It’s an idea that is reportedly being discussed in a number of cities across Florida and one of many housing- and rent-related bills expected to be proposed during the upcoming Legislative session.