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Apartment Unaffordability Is A Growing Problem In Florida

2020 Census California
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, a "For Rent" sign is posted in Sacramento, Calif.

Recent data shows how rental unaffordability is affecting low income households in Florida.

The ability to rent a house or apartment in Florida continues to be a problem for many.

As of late August, rents for apartments in the greater Tampa Bay region have increased since the beginning of the year by 21.7% and “aren’t showing signs of slowing,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

A report by research firm, AdvisorSmith, broke down rental affordability and compared it with the median household income in each city.

It found that, among large cities, Tampa was the 10th least affordable city for renters nationwide.

Among small cities, Bradenton was 8th least affordable.

Regardless of size, Palm Harbor was the 19th least affordable, Largo was 21st, Town 'n' Country was 29th, and Clearwater was 34th.

Data showing the least affordable cities for renters in the United States.
List of the least affordable cities for renters by size in the United States.

The exception was Naples, FL, which placed 34th on the list of most affordable cities for renters, regardless of size.

Data showing the most affordable cities for renters by size in the United States.
List of the most affordable cities for renters by size in the United States.

Adrian Mak, CEO of Advisor Smith, said that one reason those cities are the least affordable is due to snowbirds and retirees moving there.

“That extra demand tends to drive up the price or the cost of rentals relative to places where you go and have external demand coming in,” said Mak.

“For people who are living in those communities, they're not only competing against people who are from that community to rent apartments, but also from people who are moving in from other places or renting places on a sort of seasonal basis.”

The high cost of rent has made it harder for most, especially low-income households.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that 79% of extremely low-income renter households in Florida are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing.

The NLIHC found someone would need an annual household income of $51,619 to afford a two bedroom rental home at the fair market rent. That’s more than double the maximum income - $25,750 - of a four-person extremely low income household.

Wages in Florida also fall short of being able to pay rent.

Statewide, the most common occupations earn less than what is affordable for an average one-bedroom rental. These occupations include retail and food service workers, nursing assistants, laborers, home health aides and administrative assistants.

A person earning the minimum wage of $8.65/hour would need to work 93 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

Mak thinks that being unable to afford rent plays a huge part in someone also not being able to become a homeowner.

“In order to buy a house, you need a down payment. So if rent is unaffordable for you, it's very unlikely that you're going to be able to save enough money for a down payment,” said Mak. “The unaffordability of housing, both rental housing and housing for purchase are absolutely linked together.”

The future of rental affordability remains uncertain. According to The Tampa Bay Business Journal, rent made up 32.8% of a renter’s income in June in the Tampa Bay area. That is forecast to climb 34.3% by December. The national average is 30.2%.

Christina Loizou is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second semester with WUSF.
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