Estafany Londoño considers herself one of the lucky ones. At the height of the pandemic, the 24-year-old had to find a new place to live.
“A lot of the places I was looking at were small apartments for so much money,” said Londoño, an educator with a Master’s degree in sociology.
Hispanic residents in metro Orlando pay a higher percentage of their income on rent than anywhere else in the country, according to a study by real estate website Zillow. The average Hispanic household pays more than 42% of their income on rent in metro Orlando, compared to 34.9% for Black households and 29.7% for Whites.
Rents have gone up around the country as vacancy rates have hit their lowest point since 1983. However, “Florida really got supercharged during the pandemic,” said Jeff Tucker, senior economist for Zillow. A massive influx of new residents has put pressure on both the housing and rental markets.
Rents have skyrocketed this year. The average rent in Orlando is $1,712 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to ApartmentList.com. That represents a more than 27% increase compared to last year.
“That can be really hard to keep up with,” Tucker said, pointing out there is often a disparity between the incomes of locals and those of new residents.
But while affordability is a problem across the demographics, it’s landing hard on Latino immigrants and their families in the City Beautiful.
Marucci Guzman, executive director of Latino Leadership, said the issue starts with wages.
“When you have a community whose income is lower than their counterparts, and rent is the same amount for everyone, obviously a greater burden is going to be on their household,” she said.
Guzman calls Hispanic residents “over-represented” in the service industry. She brings up a recent visit to an area hotel where she saw a majority of the workers were Latino. “If it weren’t for the Hispanic employees, this engine would not be running,” she said.