Ray Flores, Retired Hospital Worker, is Voting for the Freedom to Have a Safe, Affordable Home for His Family

October 24, 2018

ray_flores_1199seiu_retiree_350px.jpgRay Flores is a 76-year-old retiree who previously worked at a New York hospital for many years before coming to Florida. He devotes much of his time to encouraging voters to get to the polls for the November 6 election. He decided to join his union brothers and sisters at 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and volunteer because he believes a change in leadership could greatly improve the lives of hardworking Floridians and retirees who are struggling to survive because of low wages and the high cost of living in Florida.

“What happened to the American Dream?,” said Flores. “In the past, people who worked for a living were able to make a living and afford a comfortable home. But that’s no longer possible for many Floridians because wages have not kept up with increasing living expenses. Also inadequate is the 2.8% cost of living adjustment for seniors who depend on Social Security which will take effect next year. These financial constraints coupled with high housing prices have made it difficult for working families and retirees to buy or rent a home in Florida.”

Flores knows firsthand how difficult it is to find an affordable home in Florida. After working for many years at a hospital in NYC, Flores and his wife of 53 years decided to move to Florida to retire because they believed it would be more affordable than pricey New York real estate.  However, finding a home they could afford to buy in Central Florida proved to be more difficult than they anticipated. After a long search, the Flores family was finally able to purchase a modest house in Orlando in 2009 partly because they were able to take advantage of former President Barack Obama’s home buyer’s assistance program.

Flores considers himself one of the lucky ones. There are still far too many Floridians who can’t afford the high rents and pricey homes in many parts of this state. The lack of affordable housing in Florida is well documented. According to statistics in the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report, a person earning minimum wage would have to work almost 95 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in Miami. The study also shows Florida as the sixth-worst state in the nation when it comes to available and affordable housing for low-wage workers. A study by Forbes ranked Miami as the worst city in the United States for renters, due to the great disparity in housing costs versus wages.

There are state funds allocated to address the housing crisis, but the current administration has been raiding these taxpayer trusts which are supposed to be used to develop more affordable housing in the state.  

Voters can and should hold elected officials accountable. Let’s support candidates who will protect the freedoms every Floridian needs to survive and thrive—good wages, the right to come together as a union, quality, affordable healthcare and affordable housing. Flores is doing his part by urging voters to support Andrew Gillum for Governor, Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate and our other endorsed candidates. For Flores, getting out the vote is a family affair.

“I brought my grandchildren to a recent event to support Andrew Gillum for governor because I want them to learn about the democratic process and see that they have to take an active role in politics if they want to protect their freedoms and have a bright future.”

You can do your part by voting and volunteering. For more information about early voting dates, locations and volunteering opportunities, go to our website at 1199seiu.org/floridaelection and Vote for Freedom Florida.