Walt Disney World and the Homeless Underclass in Orlando


Disney World has a homeless problem. There are 1,126 homeless households in Florida’s Osceola County, because those families can’t afford an average $800 a month rent while being paid a $8.03 minimum wage for working at Disney.

This story has been reported by the Associated Press, describing the ecosystem like this:

On any given day, tourists pay nearly $100 per person to get into Orlando’s theme parks. There, they may be waited on by homeless parents. From their hotels, they jog past bus stops where homeless children wait to head to school. They buy coffee at Starbucks next to the motels that have become families’ homes.

This has also caused tension between these workers and motel owners, who have to deal with otherwise homeless tenants who crowd the overcrowd the rooms with family members, their possessions, and in many cases can’t even afford to pay long-term.

Unfortunately, the homeless service workers, like James Ortiz, have little choice: “Paying weekly is all we can do to survive,” Ortiz, 31, said. “I can’t find a house that is suitable in a decent neighborhood for me and my child to be able to pay rent, pay the utilities, pay car insurance, pay gas and buy food.” Also unfortunate: The area’s mom-and-pop businesses, rather than brand-name hotels, have to shoulder most of the burden of supporting these families.

This has resulted in lawsuits and general backlash from these business owners, and from the workers themselves. Disney is currently negotiating with them to raise their minimum pay from the aforementioned $8.03 to $10 an hour.

Image via Getty.

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