Homelessness in the Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World Workers Sleep in Motels


Sat, 26 Apr 2014 06:44:03 PDT

Disney World may be the happiest place on earth, but it turns out a hotbed of income inequality is simmering around Cinderalla’s castle. Despite visitors paying about $100 a pop to enter the Orlando, Fla. theme park, the employees that create such a magical experience for guests are too poor to afford permanent housing.

Many workers at Disney World, the area’s largest employer, only earn Florida’s minimum wage, $8.03 an hour. According to the Associated Press, that low salary puts most apartments in surrounding Osceola County beyond the financial reach of the workers. The county doesn’t operate homeless shelters, leaving 1,216 families with no choice but to shack up in the low-budget motels located throughout the area.

"Tourists that come here ... I don't think they have a clue," 31-year-old fast food worker James Ortiz told the AP. Many workers like Ortiz moved to the Orlando area specifically to work at the tourist attractions. Now they don't make enough to afford rent plus food, clothing, gas, and all the other daily necessities. 

Because families live in motel rooms for extended periods of time—or multiple families end up cramped together inside a single room—motel owners have begun complaining to local law enforcement about the problem. Many are attempting through legal means to get people evicted.

Ortiz managed to escape from a motel and move into an RV park. Tagging along with him are his parents and his 5-year-old son. Too bad income inequality means Ortiz's son won't have the kind of enchanted memories his peers visiting the theme park go home with. 

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Original article from TakePart