(WSVN) - With many struggling to stay afloat financially here in South Florida, we continue our special coverage of Living Nightmare.
Tonight, what are our leaders in Florida doing to alleviate the cost of living crisis, and is it enough? 7’s Kevin Ozebek tracked down local and state leaders.
Arlisa Whitby has been a Miami-Dade County employee since 1988. She gets paid just under $23 an hour.
Kevin Ozebek: “Is that enough to live here in South Florida?”
Arlisa Whitby: “No, it’s not. I’m not really living, I’m surviving.”
Arlisa lives in a government subsidized on- bedroom apartment, and she says life is tough.
Kevin Ozebek: “If you did not find this subsidized housing, where would you be living?”
Arlisa Whitby: “There’s no telling. I could be homeless right now.”
Kevin Ozebek: “If the people who make this county run are struggling to afford to live here, what does that say about the state of the county?”
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava: “Well, the state of the county is strong, and some of that strength is driving up the housing market.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says she’s well aware that strong market is pricing out many longtime South Floridians.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava: “This is my number one concern today. If we do not solve this problem, we will lose our workforce.”
Last year, the mayor championed an $85 million plan that offers rent relief for some and incentives for developers to build working class housing.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava: “We’ve got 32,000 units in construction of affordable and workforce housing.”
But one huge problem here in South Florida is skyrocketing rents. Some of you are getting hit with increases of hundreds, even thousands of dollars more a month.
So why no rent control in South Florida? Because state law makes it incredibly difficult.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, Democrat, District 42: “You don’t have politicians who actually prioritize this.”
Orlando-area State Rep. Anna Eskamani has for four years put forward bills to make it easier for cities and counties to enact rent control.
All four years, her proposals have been shot down.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani: “It is the responsibility of government to make sure that people can be safe and secure, and having a roof over your head is essential to being safe and secure.”
In just a few weeks, state lawmakers will be back in Tallahassee to start a new legislative session. We tracked down Gov. Ron DeSantis to get his response to the housing crisis.
Kevin Ozebek: “Is there anything you could push state lawmakers that could ease the burden that renters have here in South Florida and across the state?
Gov. Ron DeSantis: “The senate president, number one priority, is to help provide more affordable housing.”
The day after we saw the governor, Senate Bill 102 was made public.
If passed, it will provide millions in incentives to build more affordable housing, but it would also outlaw the option of local jurisdictions enacting rent control.
Kevin Ozebek: “Are you worried about the future of Miami-Dade and Broward and Monroe counties?”
Dr. Ned Murray, Florida International University: “I’m very concerned.”
FIU’s Dr. Ned Murray is a leading expert in housing market issues in South Florida.
He says, in Miami-Dade and Broward alone, there are now 482,000 people using more than half their income for rent. With little to no money left over each month, they’re likely to leave South Florida.
Kevin Ozebek: “Are we at serious risk of losing the South Florida workforce?
Dr. Ned Murray: “I believe so.”
Kevin Ozebek: “Are you thinking of leaving Miami-Dade County given how expensive it is for you to live here?”
Arlisa Whitby: “Yes, I am.”
Arlisa wonders if she’ll be better off in more affordable Georgia or South Carolina.
After three decades of serving her county, she now feels priced out of paradise.
Kevin Ozebek, 7News.
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