Image via Shutterstock With rent prices at an all-time high, many Floridians are having to choose between paying rent and basic necessities.
Image via Shutterstock

Since the Republican governor took office in 2019, rents in the Sunshine State have shot up by 40% compared to 25% nationally.

In the past year, as rents continued to soar across Florida, the real estate industry donated more than $7 million to Gov. Ron DeSantis, with about $2.5 million coming from real estate industry players who had not given in prior elections.

Since DeSantis took office in 2019, rents in the Sunshine State have increased by 40% compared to 25% nationally, according to data from Apartment List. In fact, Florida ranks number one in the US in housing unaffordability, with 56.5% of renters spending 30% or more of their income on housing. This places Miami, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville among the top 20 US cities with the fastest climbing rent prices.

The Biggest Donors

Yet, as property values and rents continue to rise and become prohibitively high, those self-identifying as employed in occupations of real estate, developer, homebuilder, realtor, or property manager/management have added to DeSantis’ campaign coffers, which at this time stand at a whopping $96 million cash on hand for his reelection bid. Twenty-eight percent of donations have come from developers ($5 million), and 6% of donations have come from realtors, over $1 million of which is from the Realtors PAC Florida.

RELATED: House Democrats Blast DeSantis Over Affordable Housing Crisis

“It is pretty clear to me that this is the main reason why the governor will not champion housing issues, and why he has been repeating industry talking points,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando). “That is driven by a desire to make money, and clearly [political] contributions are a means to prohibit real action.”

According to DeSantis Watch, a Florida Watch and Progress Florida project, the Republican has raised more money this year already than in all of 2018, 2019, and 2020 combined. And there’s no stemming the tide: DeSantis received more than double the amount in donations from the real estate industry in July than he did in June.

“Rather than taking real action to combat the housing crisis in Florida, the Governor has done nothing but make excuses and divert blame in order to allow his corporate donors to continue to rake in massive profits,” says DeSantis Watch Communications Director Anders Croy. “While your rent continues to skyrocket, make no mistake that Governor Ron DeSantis does not care as long as the campaign contributions keep rolling in.”

Those Hardest Hit

In the meantime, hardworking people like Flora González, a South Florida babysitter who has been looking to move from her mold-infested apartment, can’t find a place she can afford.

RELATED: As Prices Continue to Soar, Rep. Charlie Crist Unveils Affordable Housing Plan for Floridians

“I’ve been looking for two months for a one-bedroom apartment, but there’s nothing for $1,500. I’ve called realtors, everyone, and they tell me the same thing: that there are apartments for rent, but owners can ask for whatever they want, because there are no caps to what they can charge. So, I’ve given up,” González told Floricua.

Looking for Solutions

As the crisis continues unabated, Florida Democratic candidates are focusing on the soaring housing costs that are eating into the savings of retirees and leaving hardworking Floridians with fewer housing options.

US Rep. Val Demings, who is running for US Senate against Marco Rubio, has made affordable housing a pillar of her campaign. For their part, US Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, the leading Democratic candidates for governor, have each released a policy framework to address the crisis. Fried has said she would call for a state of emergency and extend property tax exemptions for homeowners, while Crist has promised a down payment assistance program for veteran, young-family and first-generation homebuyers, among other measures.