LISTEN LIVE

affordable housing crisis

Saratoga Apartments in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Housing Authority

As more and more Floridians turn away from homeownership in favor of renting, the state is facing a serious shortage of apartments.

National Low Income Housing Coalition description of Florida's wages and rent in 2019.
National Low Income Housing Coalition

By Ti'Anna Davis

Floridians must work the equivalent of three full-time minimum wage jobs just to afford a modestly priced two-bedroom apartment in the state. 

Downtown Bradenton in Manatee County.
Manatee County Government

Housing prices and rents continue to rise across Florida. Thursday, a group of community leaders and advocates gathered in Bradenton to discuss Manatee County's ongoing affordable housing crunch at an event sponsored by the Manatee Tiger Bay Club.

Nationwide, an average wage earner would need to spend 32.7 percent of his or her income to buy a median-priced home. But for Manatee residents, that figure is 46.3 percent.

A new report has found that six in 10 employed adults in South Florida are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. That’s the highest of any metro area in the country.

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

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.

Construction in downtown Tampa
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.

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.