Orange County voters to consider rent control measure on November ballot
Commissioners make.

Emily Bonilla
Commissioner Emily Bonilla's rent control measure finds enough votes to go to ballot.

Orange County voters will have a ballot measure in November asking them whether they want to enact a one-year cap on rent increases.

The measure, championed by Commissioner Emily Bonilla, was approved 4-3 after another four hours of emotional testimony, discussion and debate Tuesday, following an even longer forum on the question two weeks ago.

The measure heading to the countywide ballot would ask voters to set a rent percentage increase cap tied to the federal Consumer Price Index, for 12 months.

The ordinance presenting the “rent stabilization” ballot measure has numerous exemptions, many of them mandated by state law. So the cap will not apply to many types of rental dwellings, from mobile homes to “luxury apartments” to rental houses.

If approved by a majority of voters, the measure would control rents at affected properties for only one year, starting Nov. 21. That would come with the expectation that Orange County would use the coming year to expand or develop new mid-term and long-term solutions to a crisis tied to an affordable housing shortage and skyrocketing rent increases, which averaged 30% in the past year, said to be the second-highest rate in the country.

Tuesday’s vote had Bonilla and Commissioners Maribel Gomez Cordero, Mayra Uribe and Nicole Wilson voting “yes,” and Mayor Jerry Demings and Commissioners Christine Moore and Victoria Siplin voting “no.”

Wilson and Moore, in particular, gave impassioned arguments for and against. They echoed dozens of public speakers who spoke in July and Tuesday, divided between renters and their advocates — contending that people were being forced into the streets — and property owners arguing that they only are addressing their own skyrocketing costs.

No one disputed that rents are high and climbing fast.

But the debate and ultimately the Commission divide really was a showdown between Bonilla and Demings, two Democrats who often have been in opposition. In part, Demings’ housing strategies of the past four years were being called into question as inadequate.

Demings made a lengthy presentation suggesting that the county already is accomplishing or pursuing a great many measures to help people with high rent, that they are working for thousands of renters, and that they will reach more in time.

The efforts range from county-sponsored development of thousands of new affordable housing units to rent assistance, drawn from federal grants, for more than 9,000 renters a year. Projects in the works include a renters’ “bill of rights” and a renters advocacy office.

“I don’t know what a rent control will do because there still are going to be people regardless who are going to struggle paying their rent. In this short term we’ve got to provide money, real dollars to individuals to keep them in their homes. Even if we decide to advance the rent stabilization ordinance to the ballot, it will be all for naught if we don’t do these things to keep people in their homes right now,” Demings said.

Bonilla applauded all of that, but responded that it is not enough, contending that thousands more people are facing evictions or struggling just to keep from being evicted.

“Right now we need to stop the bleeding and in the next year take more aggressive actions than something that’s slow like this,” Bonilla said.

The rent stabilization question joins a measure championed by Demings, already on the county’s General Election ballot. That issue asks voters whether they want to increase the sales tax by a penny to pay for transit and transportation improvements.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


7 comments

  • Joe Corsin

    August 9, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    Because the stupid state won’t allow rent controls…they ought to jack up the tax rate and use that money to help people afford rent. The greed and the hogs are an abomination in this state.

    • Impeach Biden

      August 9, 2022 at 9:23 pm

      You are a socialist and definitely unemployed. Seek help and please find a job.

    • Impeach Biden

      August 9, 2022 at 9:47 pm

      People are fleeing countries like Venezuela but Corsin wants to turn the US into Venezuela. Think about that next time you vote BLUE. Bernie Sanders says hi.

    • Jerry

      August 9, 2022 at 11:34 pm

      What you are suggesting is communism. Price controls and wealth redistribution is communism. We are not a communist country.

      Why is the rent going up? Blame the clown in the White House and corrupt people in Congress. The dollar loses value every time the government passes these massive spending bills. Right now, we are at 9% inflation. And the Democrats are doing nothing to relieve that inflationary pressure. Nothing in that bill they just passed will do anything to help bring your rent down.

      We also have a housing shortage….not just in Florida but nationwide. Supply chains still haven’t recovered from COVID shutdowns. And we can’t build houses and apartments fast enough to keep up with demand. Florida’s population also boomed the past few years partly because so many around the country were trying to escape the COVID tyranny and high taxation in blue states.

      • marylou

        August 10, 2022 at 3:09 pm

        Right…like Joe said, Florida needs rent control. The upward redistribution of wealth has got to go. Stop robbing the makers to shovel $$$ to the takers!

        Corporations and landLORDs love socialism when the government covers their costs and cleans up their pollution. They also like the roads, police, and all the other free stuff they get— way out of proportion to what they pay in taxes. They’re all for corporate welfare handouts. We just have to keep our hands off their profits—those are private.

      • marylou

        August 10, 2022 at 5:05 pm

        Right…like Joe says, Florida needs rent control. The US has Wealth Redistribution now. It is heading upward to the idle 1%. Time to stop robbing the Makers to shovel $$$ to the Takers.

        The rich, corporations, and landLORDs think socialism is great when the government is covering their costs and cleaning up their pollution. They love socialist roads, police, and all the other free stuff they can get their thieving hands on. They receive government services and tax handouts completely out of proportion to what they pay in. They feel entitled to Corporate Welfare. As for profits….those are private.
        (sorry if this is a duplicate, trouble with site!)

  • YYep

    August 15, 2022 at 11:56 am

    So ñet me see a certain rent control for a certain people choice

Comments are closed.


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