Lawmakers pushing to add affordable housing to special session agenda for Florida Legislature

As the nation’s lawmakers focus on surging gas prices, officials in Florida say people need more affordable housing options. Rent prices across the state are up more than 20% over last year. 

Eulogio Garcia and his wife, Courtney, were forced to leave their house last month. Now they can’t find anywhere to rent. "We keep on getting denied because we don’t make three times the amount of rent," said Garcia. Together they have three children, and both work full time. For now, they’re staying with family, but they don’t have the room to fit their entire family, so "she’s right now at her mother’s house with her two kids, and I’m at my dad’s house with my one kid." 

It’s stories like these that have lawmakers looking to expand next week’s Special Session in the Florida Legislature to also discuss the rental crisis. "Every day in the legislative office, we are getting emails and phone calls and walkups of Floridians who are facing eviction, Floridians who are waiting for rental assistance," said State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

Some solutions lawmakers would like to address include using American Rescue Plan money to provide additional rental assistance, incentivizing construction to increase supply, a temporary short-term voucher program, and increasing protection for tenants. "This is far exceeding the amount of inflation and families are suffering. Seniors are suffering," said Rep. Eskamani.

The Garcias are hopeful the issues gets addressed because they can’t stay with family forever. They need help now. "Hoping for it yeah," said Eulogio Garcia. 

"That’s the only thing we can do is stay hopeful as much as we can," said his wife. 

Lawmakers sent a letter to the Governor a few weeks ago in the hopes of getting the rental crisis on the agenda. So far, they’ve received no response.

The special session is set to begin Monday.