Despite strong contributions to Orlando economy, ESL families still fight to avoid homelessness

It’s very easy to struggle in Orlando with all of the challenges presented by the lack of affordable housing and low wages, but I can’t imagine trying to navigate it without being able to speak English.

Yet, thousands of families are making key contributions to Orlando’s economy by doing just that.

Spanish speaking families from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and South America, have been fueling the tourism heavy Orlando economic engine for years.

And these aren’t glamorous jobs. They’re working in hotels, theme parks, restaurants and almost every other location that lures in dollars from all over the world to power this beautiful city.

But many of them are struggling. They’re living in hotels and packed into small units of housing that are poorly maintained. And they’re not being paid what they’re worth despite putting in 100% each day.

Yes, there is that popular phrase “Speak English! Learn the language of the nation your staying in.”

And I can tell you, they’re trying. Take it from someone who’s been around the world. It doesn’t feel good to be locked out of the way the world is communicating around you. And many of the youngest members of these families speak better English than some grown ups I know.

Those young boys and girls will grow from the education they’re getting in our communities and do even more great things for Orlando. Some very productive members of our orbit have already grown up to do just that.

But there are things we can do to reward them for their contributions now.

1. Keep them away from homelessness by continuing to promote housing programs and make them easily accessable.
2. Expand our efforts to educate them with resources already in play (public transportation should be a classroom).
3. Continue to support our teachers as they continue their noble efforts to prepare the young members of our community for the future (story HERE).
4. And pay them a fair wage for allowing our tourism engine to keep working.

These families are earning their share and contributing to prosperity in Orlando. They deserve a stable home and a decent quality of life.

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