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Florida Faces Apartment Shortage

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

Numbers from the Florida Apartment Association show that the state would need to add over 600,000 new apartments by 2030 to keep up with both the rising population and the increased demand.

“We have over 900 people moving here every single day,” said the association’s government affairs director, Amanda Gill, “and if we don’t have housing for them, at some point, those individuals and their companies and their economic opportunity will go to another state if we don’t have the housing here in Florida.”

The report estimates that 47,814 new apartment homes would have to be built per year to address the state’s needs in the next 10 years. Florida is projected to add only 33,688 apartments in 2019.

According to Gill, the apartment shortage is driving up rent.

“If we are not keeping up on pace with building the amount of housing we need, the housing affordability crisis here in Florida is only going to get more acute. And I think we’re already seeing it in some of our urban centers,” said Gill.

READ MORE: See WUSF’s “Growing Unaffordable” coverage

Despite the increased demand for affordable apartments, Florida developers haven’t been keeping up. Rising material costs and regulatory fees have made it more expensive to build across the state.

Gill estimates that about 32% of a developer’s construction costs come from a combination of federal, state and local regulations like fire codes and inspection requirements.

“There’s lots of research out there that shows that there really is this gap that exists in the market,” said Gill. “Outside of local governments coming to the table and offering some sort of incentive to help offset the front end costs that are associated with development, affordable construction just isn’t happening right now.”

The Florida Apartment Association recommends that developers and government officials work together to reduce upfront construction costs and pass on savings to the consumer.

Gill suggests that local governments reduce impact fees, offer property tax discounts, and allow developers to increase the density of their properties in order to incentivize developers who rely on investors to fund their projects.

“When you have a situation where you’re trying to build affordable housing, where rents are capped at a below market rate, you can see a situation where they cannot get the return on investment that’s needed to get those investors to the table,” said Gill.

“It’s about housing being priced at a level that folks can afford to have a good quality of life and also have quality housing.”

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