ORLANDO, Fla. — A group of Democratic state lawmakers is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency for affordable housing.

It’s been one of the biggest issues plaguing Central Florida since the start of the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando alongside State Sen. Gary Farmer sent a joint letter to the governor saying this crisis has been years in the making and it's time to take action

  • The letter was co-signed by two dozen Democratic legislators in the Senate and House, including representatives Anna Eskamani and Geraldine Thompson

  • Scroll down to read the letter

The group is asking DeSantis to direct state Attorney General Ashley Moody to recognize any rental price increases of greater than 10% as price gouging.

"Not only is there a lack of affordable housing supply in the state of Florida, but also what we're seeing is these huge rent hikes that are just totally unconscionable, and it's not just happening here in Orlando, we know that in Central Florida we've seen an average of 20% rent hike increases," Smith said.

The letter cites the Florida Housing Coalition estimated that the Sunshine State faces a deficit of more than 300,000 affordable housing units.

"Folks are not just sleeping on other people's couches, but they're living in their cars. We're talking about families, moms and dads with kids, who are living in their cars or living in motels because there's simply nothing available, some are on the streets," Smith said.

The five-page letter also cites the pandemic as a factor in this housing hardship families are facing.

Spectrum News 13 plans to reach out to the governor’s office for comment on the letter.