Angie DiMichele | Sarasota Herald-Tribune | April 30, 2021
Nearly 1,000 people move to Florida every day, making Florida the second fastest-growing state in the country. Yet as housing demand increases, there are not enough options to meet the demand of those who need affordable housing.
No state has an adequate supply of affordable housing, according to The Gap, an annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, published in March. Florida is one of the five states that are most challenging for extremely low-income renters to find affordable housing, along with Nevada, California, Oregon and Arizona.
Florida has only 28 affordable homes available for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, according to the report.
Jaimie Ross, president and chief executive officer of Florida Housing Coalition, said the state’s housing crisis boils down to the fact that housing prices exceed the local workers’ incomes, what she called “a serious mismatch between what people earn in Florida and what housing costs in Florida.”
Extremely low-income renter households are those who make at or below the poverty line or 30% of the area median income, depending on which is greater, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions. Low-income households are those who earn 80% of the area median income or less.
Only 36% of extremely low-income renters are working people, many with jobs in the retail and service industries that were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The remaining percentage is made up of seniors, households with disabilities and students or single parents or caregivers.
“Our housing prices, our rents are set at whatever the market will bear, and our workforce in Florida can’t afford those rents and can’t afford those housing prices,” Ross said.
Over half of the country’s largest occupations do not pay a high enough hourly wage on average for its workers to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment, the report says.
The report says full-time workers need to make $19.56 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment and make $23.96 an hour to afford a two bedroom on average across the country.
Wages are not keeping pace with housing costs in Florida
Nick VinZant, a senior research analyst at QuoteWizard, has researched the growing gap between housing costs and income nationwide. His report says Florida has the seventh-highest disparity between housing costs and income.
In Florida, the median income has increased by slightly more than 20% since 2012 while median housing prices have almost doubled, increasing by 99.3%. Compared to the rest of the country, Florida’s housing price increase was above the national average, yet the rise in Floridians’ incomes was about $5,000 less than in other states, VinZant said.
For a household earning the current median income of $55,660, VinZant said these workers may…