We have to be aware of “cigarette style” advertising when it comes to Orlando affordable housing

You’ve probably heard this phrase or a phrase similar to it before when it comes to the tobacco industry.

“The tobacco industry will spend ten thousand dollars fighting lung cancer, and then spend ten million dollars telling everyone how they did it.”

Sadly, we’re seeing this messaging trend with affordable housing in Orlando.

We’re seeing our local officials cut a video on a dozen units of affordable housing. They’re doing fancy walkthroughs of one of the few completed ones and passing it off as the norm, when in fact most projects won’t be done until next year or the year after that. They’ll then shoot that footage out on all of their social media channels, briefings, and shows. They’ll even do a press availability about it.

Then, in their next commission or county meeting, they’ll green light hundreds of units of housing we can’t afford. And they’ll get away with it because we’re looking at that one unit.

We saw this kind of behavior in Osceola County, where commissioners invited the press to one of their few operating affordable housing operations. It was a friendly impression for them.

That same afternoon, they enacted a harmful ordinance on extended stay hotels in the region many families call home. And now those families will be out on the street. But.. that’s not what we were looking at.

Is it sneaky? Absolutely. Is it fair? Absolutely not. But when the rules of political survival are in play anything goes.

We have to call out this behavior when we see it. Otherwise, we’ll continue to struggle to gain ground on this problem and more people will continue to find themselves on the street.

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