Hillsborough County hears Affordable Housing Task Force Study by Mitch E. Perry

10/04/06

In Hillsborough County, the average home price has gone up some 204% since 1994, yet average earnings have only gone up only 50% in that time. That wage gap is one of the big problems that is preventing citizens from getting get housing in the County (roll tape#1 o.q.�and have not increased�)

That’s County Commissioner Thomas Scott, who has served as Chairman of the County’s Affordable Housing Task Force for the past year and a half. Scott was summarizing one of the main problems with citizens in the County trying to find affordable housing – along with the other factors that are affecting nearly every Floridian who DOES own property in 2006, such as and insurance and property tax hikes.

Today, the culmination of a year and a half of studying the issues with the lack of affordable housing in Hillsborough County were presented in a study on the problem that was presented to the County Commission.

Ann Williamson with the University of Florida, and one of the authors of the report. She explained the difference between ‘affordable’ and ‘attainable’ housing (roll tape#2 o.q.�in today’s market�)

Williamson went back to 1994 in terms of comparison…..She said THAT was a buyers market, with the average household able to more than than afford an average home.

That trend continued until about 2004, when there was a dramatic decrease in the purchasing power of the average family, making it no longer attainable to buy a home.

Williamson acknowledged a recent softening in the real estate market in the past year. But she said there is still double digit appreciation in most homes (roll tape#3 o.q.�have low incomes�)

The Task Force also addressed renting as an option. The University of Florida’s Ann Williamson said that if a household has an income of over $30,000, they can afford to rent out an ‘average ‘ home or apartment. But there’s a problem with that, as well (roll tape#4 o.q.�1.97%�)

Although job growth has been strong in the area, and should continue, Williamson provided statistics that showed that most of these jobs are on the low end of the pay scale, as is typical throughout Florida.

The rare good news in the study said that there should be more housing constructed in the area for low to moderate households within the next 5 years.

Commissioner Ronda Storms said that another way to make homes more affordable for people is to have the County Appraisor begin to give more realistic – i.e., lower property appraisals – and then for potential homeowners to take advantage of those lower appraised homes (roll tape#5 o.q.’property taxes�)

Commissioner Kathy Castor appeared to sum up the problem with affordable housing(roll tape#6 o.q.�over the coming years�)

Commissioner Thomas Scott insisted that this study will not ‘sit on a shelf gathering dust’. IN fact, the Task Force will mutate into an advisory board and meet quarterly to deal with the crucial issue . There is also talk about hiring a consultant to look at changing trends with affordable housing.

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