Today, a minimum-wage earner can afford a one-bedroom apartment in only 145 out of 3,143 counties in America. One of the very worst places in the United States to look for affordable housing is Osceola County, Florida.
Once the main approach to Disney World, where vacationers found lodging on their way to the Magic Kingdom, the fifteen-mile Route 192 corridor in Osceola has become a site of shocking contrasts. At one end, global investors snatch up foreclosed properties and park their capital in extravagant vacation homes for affluent visitors, eliminating the county’s affordable housing in the process. At the other, underpaid tourist industry workers, displaced families, and disabled and elderly people subsisting on government checks cram themselves into dilapidated, roach-infested motels, or move into tent camps in the woods.
Through visceral, frontline reporting from the motels and encampments dotting central Florida, renowned social analyst Andrew Ross exposes the overlooked housing crisis sweeping America’s suburbs and rural areas, where residents suffer ongoing trauma, poverty, and nihilism. As millions of renters face down evictions and foreclosures in the midst of the COVID-19 recession, Andrew Ross reveals how ineffective government planning, property market speculation, and poverty wages have combined to create this catastrophe. Urgent and incisive, Sunbelt Blues offers original insight into what is quickly becoming a full-blown national emergency.
Andrew Ross is a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and a social activist. A contributor to the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Nation, he is the author of many books, including The Celebration Chronicles, Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, and Nice Work if You Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times.