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Affordable Housing A Priority In Tampa's Development Boom

The Tampa skyline
Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
The Census’ American Community 2017-18 survey listed Tampa as the third most populous city in Florida ";

As Tampa's population grows, so does its need for affordable housing.

Mayor Jane Castor describes the lack of affordable housing options as a result of simple supply and demand: as the city's population increases, so does the cost of rent, pricing out some longtime residents.

“As we all know, Tampa is a fast growing city - our skyline is rapidly changing and more and more people are moving here every day,” said Castor. “But population growth can often result in unintended challenges - particularly limited supply and high demand for housing.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Castor pledged to address the city’s growing need for affordable housing.

Adopting a series of recommendations outlined in a report by her Housing Affordability Advising Team, Castor's plan would rehab and preserve existing housing projects while increasing the city's stock of affordable units by 20 percent annually through 2027.

Castor says the success of the plan depends on cooperation between members of local nonprofits, city government and the private sector.

Since 2000, the city’s population has steadily increased as businesses like Amazon and USAA, as well as large numbers of individuals have moved to the Tampa Bay area. The U.S. Census American Community 2017-18 survey listed Tampa as the third most populous city in Florida.  

The influx of newcomers has spurred a housing boom, yet a report released by the Housing Advisory Team found that less than 5% of the residential permits issued in 2019 went to affordable housing units.

Castor compared the housing trends in Tampa to those shaping housing shortages across the country- specifically in San Francisco and Boston- where Castor says it’s “nearly impossible” to rent an apartment, let alone buy a house.

“We have to work together to ensure there are sufficient housing options for all Tampanians to afford," said Castor.

READ MORE: Tampa Bay's affordable housing initiatives

City of St. Petersburg Neighborhood Affairs Administrator, Robert Gerdes, saysCastor’s recommendationsare a step in the right direction.

"Housing affordability is a regional issue and we were very happy that Mayor Castor recognizes as we do the importance of the issue. And we're hoping regionally that we can provide more housing affordability for the families and households in St. Petersburg."

An affordable housing complex is set to open in downtown St. Petersburg later this year. Gerdes says these units are part of the city’s larger initiative to create more affordable options for area residents.

“As a lifelong Tampanian who lives in Seminole Heights, I believe that everyone should have the chance to live in a place they’re proud to call home,” said Castor.  “They shouldn’t have to worry whether they can continue to afford a roof over their head.”

Delaney Brown is a radio news intern for the fall of 2019.