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Rising housing costs are prompting protests and possible solution from Tampa Bay lawmakers

Two men are sitting in motorized scooters at a Tampa protest for evicted tenants.
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Ernest Nelson Jr. (right, in red sweater) is one of the many tenants who are being evicted from the Holly Court apartments at the end of this month. The North Tampa man says he's unsure of where he will live next. Host Steve Newborn spoke him last week at a protest.

Experts say the pandemic has accelerated a problem that has been growing over the past few years in the region.

This week, we start our look at housing affordability in the greater Tampa Bay region.

Since early on in the pandemic, rising rents and evictions have brought more awareness of the issue — especially as both lower- and middle-class residents are being priced out of neighborhoods in cities such as St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Experts say the pandemic is accelerating a problem that has been growing over the past few years.'

RELATED: Sarasota pushes for the use of COVID-19 federal funds for affordable housing

In this episode, host Steve Newborn talks with people on different ends of the issue.

First, we hear him interview Eric Watson and Ernest Nelson Jr., two men who are being evicted from their apartments in North Tampa at the end of this month. The conversations took place during rally held last week by the Tampa Tenants Union to protest the mass evictions happening at the Holly Court apartments.

Later, Newborn talks with two housing experts about the data they’ve seen on rising housing costs in Tampa Bay and Florida in general. Anne Ray is manager of the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse — a statewide housing information database — at the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies. And Elizabeth Strom is a professor in the University of South Florida’s School of Public Affairs.

He also discusses some solutions at the local government level with Gina Driscoll, chair of the St. Petersburg City Council.

RELATED: The St. Petersburg City Council will explore rent control to deal with the city's housing crisis

We also want to hear from listeners about their experiences with rising housing costs. Talk to us here.

You can listen to the conversations by clicking on the “Listen” button above. Or you can listen on the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

Hi there! I’m Dinorah Prevost and I’m the producer of Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show. That basically means that I plan, record and edit the interviews we feature on the show.
Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.