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Growing Unaffordable

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Public education is supposed to be the great equalizer.

And while it's easy to focus on teachers and curriculum as the engines behind a student’s success, housing instability also affects learning. Frequent school moves in childhood can impede academic and social development, research shows.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

On a recent afternoon, 71-year-old Milton Malphus walked into the community room of his senior apartment building to get some lunch. Sporting a flat-rimmed hat, basketball sneakers and a T-shirt covered in pineapples, Malphus said he dresses as young as he feels: 17.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Hurricane Irma did a number on Earlene Kelly's home last year. Part of the roof on her Tampa home was ripped off, screens were torn to shreds and sections of the fence had fallen.

The storm hit just weeks after Kelly was told her car needed a new transmission. She had already been stressing over how to pay her mortgage, as her seasonal job as a reading instructor at Hillsborough Community College was coming to an end.

It was a perfect storm of circumstances, and it put Kelly out of the place she had called home for more than 20 years.

Like everywhere in Florida, Hillsborough County has a lack of affordable housing.

The issue has grown more acute due to a growing population, deep federal cuts to subsidized housing programs, and stagnant wages.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

High above downtown Tampa, giant construction cranes tower near what will become the city’s newest offering in luxury living. The project - 815 Water Street - will feature two towers of apartments and condominiums replete with amenities such as a rooftop bar, fitness center and a ground-level grocery store.

But drive just two miles west, and you will find the bulldozed cinder block remains of what used to be North Boulevard Homes, Tampa’s oldest public housing complex.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

For many people struggling to afford rent in Tampa, owning a home could provide more space, more stability and sometimes even a lower monthly cost.

Cathy Carter / WUSF Public Media

Back in October, hundreds of Hillsborough County residents packed the pews of Tampa's First Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

With Hillsborough County in the midst of an affordable housing crunch, developers continue building luxury homes and apartments, especially in Tampa's trendy neighborhoods and downtown. Despite a growing demand for more affordable single-family homes and rentals, private developers aren’t building them.

Maria Gigglioti / WUSF Public Media

WUSF News will be highlighting America's affordable housing crunch and its impact here at home in an upcoming special report.