When you hear the term “affordable housing,” what do you think of?
If it’s “housing for the low-income community,” you might want to rethink that -- although the term can include that group. But when we use the phrase, we’re not necessarily referencing people who are struggling to make ends meet.
We just mean, as simple as it might sound, affordable housing -- housing that’s affordable; so, access to the housing market or the ability to pay a reasonable rent, for people with regular jobs.
“We don’t need luxury. We need affordability,” one member of our housing panel said.
Another woman on the same panel teared up when she spoke of her rising rent costs, coupled with her son’s increasing out-of-state tuition rates. She has a job, but said it can be hard to keep up, and even overwhelming at times. “It’s very stressful, because I’m a mom.”
“Yeah, my anxiety level is up to here,” added another mother as she gestured with her hands, showing her peers and panel host Louis Bolden what she meant.
The second woman mentioned suffering from panic attacks and having to tell her children every now and again that she just needs a moment to breathe, when her mind is racing and she’s preoccupied with finances tied to housing.
When Bolden asked the panel members if they thought there was a stigma attached to the search for affordable housing, the crowd murmured in agreement.
And again, it’s not just hard for lower-income families. Finding a place to live, especially in Central Florida as of late, can be challenging for people with blue-collar jobs, especially teachers, police officers and people in similar careers.
We need not to think of this as an issue that affects only some of the population. It’s very much a middle-class and “nearly everyone” type of problem.
When it comes to home ownership, that’s the goal for many: Building wealth, growing equity and taking part in the American dream.
But in cities such as Winter Park, it can be hard to get in on the action when you look at median home prices and median salaries. They just don’t match up. And there’s pressure from developers, rising costs, and it’s downright challenging to save for a down payment on an “average” house, for many people.
On this next episode of “Solutionaries,” you’ll learn about a Community Land Trust and see how the group is able to help people hoping to own a home. The organization isn’t just in Winter Park. Land Trusts have assisted, or they’re in the process of helping, in Vermont, Texas and even Jacksonville, Florida.
These trusts are a solution -- they can help communities on the brink of gentrification, one leader told us. One of the mothers we spoke with is on the wait list to work with the Community Land Trust.
“It’s not so much that I’m tired of renting, but it’s time,” said the woman, a single mom with two kids, ages 6 and 11.
What else are you wondering about affordable housing?
Is it why the prices so high? Or when they’ll come down? Where can you find a place to live, anyway?
We started our reporting with you. We asked for your experiences, questions and ideas for possible stories, and then followed up on more than 150 suggestions from across Central Florida. We held that panel discussion you see above, and then took the insights that resulted from the chat to trusted experts for their responses and advice.
The full episode will be released at 8 p.m. on Sept. 20.
So far, we’ve found person-to-person quick fixes and looked across the country for larger, systemic solutions. Here’s the trailer below.
Remind me: What is ‘Solutionaries?’
At such a pivotal time in our history, change is happening all around us. Calls for reform are loud, systems are evolving and conversations are taking place every day.
At News 6, we’re committed to highlighting those in our community who are at the forefront of those conversations, working to fight for advancements in our society with the goal of making the world a better, more equitable place.
That’s why we launched “Solutionaries,” a solutions-based digital newscast designed for you to watch any time you want. You can find the show at:
- On your Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, or Apple TV. (Search for “WKMG” in your App Store).
We hope you’re looking forward to episode two as much as we are!
Watch episode one: Policing in America