Residential Real Estate
Affordable Housing Challenge
In Florida, a family of four must have 2.6 wage earners working full time at minimum wage or one full-time wage earner working 102 hours a week in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing C
The shift also finds the business community moving into the advocates' ranks. "I haven't been in a meeting in the last six months where there hasn't been a chamber of commerce type saying please help us with this crisis," says Wight Greger of the Florida Housing Coalition. Steve Auger, the new executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp., says the business community "realizes affordable housing is not just a social issue; it's an economic development issue."
With labor and material costs beyond the control of government, some developers are seeking to lower the cost of building affordable housing by asking county and local officials to change regulations involving everything from land use to appearance, taxes, fees and zoning.
Less clear in the discussion is what can be done about homebuyers' expectations and attitudes. Buyers often are unwilling to purchase homes their parents or grandparents would have found acceptable. They may object to older housing stock, the look of a neighborhood, antiquated floor plans and limited number of baths or garage space, for instance. And there's also race. In Pinellas County, for example, a search of the multiple listing service turns up numerous homes for sale under $200,000. Many appear in ZIP codes where most residents are African-American; while the homes are "affordable," many white buyers wouldn't consider them as real options in choosing a place to live -- and many brokers won't show them.
Nor has there been serious discussion about addressing some element of affordability by raising the salaries of the police officers, firefighters and teachers who are now the objects of so much concern.
In any event, some change is already afoot, on a number of fronts. Florida Trend reports on a sample of efforts in both the public and private sectors to address affordability issues.
Median prices for existing single-family homes for the third quarter of 2005 vs. the change in median income from 2000-05.
StatewideHome price$248,6005-year change90.0%5-year income change15.2%Fort LauderdaleHome price$383,9005-year change115.9%5-year income change6.6%JacksonvilleHome price$193,8005-year change66.9%5-year income change12.6%Fort Pierce/Port St. LucieHome price$267,5005-year change121.0%5-year income change5.8%MiamiHome price$363,3005-year change107.9%5-year income change6.1%NaplesHome price$489,2005-year change114.7%5-year income change7.1%OrlandoHome price$248,9005-year change72.3%5-year income change11.1%PensacolaHome price$170,8005-year change62.0%5-year incomes change19.0%Sarasota/BradentonHome price$338,2005-year change100.8%5-year income change17.2%TallahasseeHome price$169,7005-year change54.5%5-year income change11.8%Tampa/St. Pete/ClearwaterHome price$216,1005-year change79.8%5-year income change9.8%West Palm Beach/Boca RatonHome price$399,9005-year change113.9%5-year income change9.7%
Sources: Florida Association of Realtors, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight