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More and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region. In some places, rent has doubled. The cost of everyday goods — like gas and groceries — keeps creeping up. All the while, wages lag behind and the affordable housing crisis looms. Amid cost-of-living increases, WUSF is focused on documenting how people are making ends meet.

Here's how much you have to make to afford rent in Tampa

A "For Rent" sign is staked in the front yard of a yellow home managed by Calebro & Associates, LLC. After calling the number on the sign, Burke spoke with the legitimate owner and realtor, Bert Calebro.
Gabriella Paul
/
WUSF Public Media
A "For Rent" sign is staked in the front yard of a yellow home managed by Calebro & Associates, LLC. After calling the number on the sign, Burke spoke with the legitimate owner and realtor, Bert Calebro.

A recent Florida Atlantic University study shows the average rent in the Tampa Bay region is around $2,100 a month.

The Tampa Bay region is facing a rental affordability crisis. The latest Waller, Weeks and Johnson Rental index says Tampa ranks 18th in the country for rental affordability.

To comfortably afford the average rent of $2,100, you need to earn at least $85,000 a year.

Florida Atlantic University real estate economist Ken H. Johnson helped compile the Waller, Weeks and Johnson Rental index. He said there are just too many people chasing too few housing units.

And he said the short-term solution may include some unusual living arrangements as people try to get by.

"You probably remember watching The Odd Couple or The Golden Girls, right? Those sitcoms? Well, they depicted real life, rent crises, our housing affordability crisis, where people were moving in together to share the cost of rent."

Longer term, Johnson said local governments need to be encouraging developers to build more units and charge whatever they want and let the economy work things out.

"Well, as soon as they oversupply these things, economies will take over again... markets work. And you'll see those prices have to come down to be competitive. A good way to get out of this is simply to let developers overdevelop at price points that they want."

Johnson said he's optimistic that rent prices will go down, but not for at least 18 to 36 months.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.