‘It’s really hard:’ Affordable housing crisis across Central Florida weighs on residents’ mental health

Bright Community Trust, other organizations provide information on rental assistance programs

ORLANDO, Fla. – The housing crisis across Central Florida appears to only be getting worse and residents tell us in many ways it’s impacting their mental health.

Mena Alexis, 30, said she’s reminded of her current eviction notice and the reality that she and her five, soon to be six, children may be left homeless.

“I’m just like, ‘Can I get some kind of relief from everything because everything has been so hard,’” Alexis said. “I’ve just been so stressed out, it’s really hard.”

She lives in Parramore and said her rising rent is no longer affordable, especially as a single mother.

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“It went from $875 to $975 up to $1,159,” she said.

She’s the latest resident across Central Florida who said her housing situation is affecting her mental health.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I haven’t fallen into depression. I have fallen into depression,” Alexis said.

She’s now employed again after losing at least one job recently after missing too many workdays to care for her sick child.

She admits though she’s received some housing help in the past from organizations, she’s still trying to make ends meet.

“Right now with unaffordable rent, it is just tragic,” Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill said.

She knows the stress rising rent can have on residents but said there’s help out there, like the RAPID rehousing program and the RISE Employment and Training program, which in some cases will pay residents for job training while providing child care and housing assistance.

“No one really in their guts wants to be on the streets of any city experiencing that especially with children,” said Hill, who represents District 5 in Orlando.

Traci Blue works for Bright Community Trust, which helps connect residents in Orange, Osceola, Lake, and Seminole counties with resources to find affordable housing.

She said she’s seen the housing crisis affect people’s mental health.

“I’ve been on the phone with people who are crying, and they don’t know what to do and they don’t know where to go and I’m trying to hold back the tears myself,” Blue said. “I Just let them know that I’m here for them. I want to share whatever resources I can.”

Blue went on to say it’s important not to give up because “it’s never too late.”

Alexis said she’s trying not to give up, all as she continues working and looking for resources to make sure she and her kids have a place to call home.

Bright Community Trust, the city of Orlando and other community organizations are holding events this weekend to encourage more homeownership, provide affordable housing options and teach financial literacy courses.

Those interested can register here. For more information, click here.

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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.