Mayor Buddy Dyer is seeking another term in office this year as he looks to extend his record as being Orlando’s longest serving mayor. Dyer has been in office since 2003 and has worked on everything from big venues to revitalizing Parramore. Orlando’s budget has increased during his tenure as tourism has skyrocketed and more events continue to come to town.
While Dyer is campaigning on how well Orlando is doing since he’s been in office, there are other issues that the mayor has been slow to address.
Since Orlando’s economy has bounced back from the Great Recession almost a decade ago, the cost of housing has gotten so high that many residents are being priced out of Orlando’s market. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Gap Report, Orlando is one of the worst metro areas in the nation for affordable housing, and tops in the state for percentage of extremely low income households that are cost burdened.
In addition to many of Orlando residents not having the ability to afford a safe and secure place to live, the Orlando Housing Authority will soon start to raze many of its public housing units by way of the United State Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city will lose 1,000 affordable housing units, and while the demolition of the units will not happen for a few years, this will mean more low-income renters will not have a safe and secure place to live.
The Housing Authority has announced that everyone being forced to move will be given a voucher, that isn’t a guarantee that all impacted will be allowed to remain in the same area as some landlords will not accept housing vouchers from the government.
Coupled with the issue of affordable housing is homelessness and the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The mayor has announced the city’s commitment to helping break the cycle of homelessness in Orlando, but under Dyer’s leadership, the city has enacted some of the most regressive ordinances around homelessness in the city. For years, Orlando forced those experiencing homelessness and panhandles to ask for money in blue boxes painted on the street. If individuals asking for help or money did so outside of the blue boxes, they were fined or arrested.
The city has since repealed that ordinance, but Dyer seemed to be following the lead of other major metro areas and not offering true leadership.
Two major issues will be on the minds of voters when they head to the ballot box in November, housing and homelessness, and so far, Dyer hasn’t done much to fix either issue.