Affordable housing in Sarasota, again in short supply
By Josh Salman
Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
When Mike Beller moved to Sarasota three years ago, he didn’t expect apartment hunting to be such an arduous chore.
The 31-year-old had lived in Sarasota several years ago, and he grew up in Largo, just north of St. Petersburg, where rents were always relatively cheap. He expected the same here.
But after a frustrating nine months last year looking for a modest place to live with his wife, Michelle, and their 3-year-old son, the family was about ready to call it quits.
They toured more than 25 apartments in the area. Each was either beyond the budget of their retail jobs or in an area where they did not feel safe.
In a trend that is almost certain to resurrect the same complication that affected Southwest Florida during the mid-2000s real estate boom, affordable housing is once again becoming increasingly difficult to find.
If prices continue to rise, experts believe working-class professions such as teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers soon will be largely unable to afford housing — a phenomenon that could have wide-ranging economic repercussions.
Fierce demand from homebuyers and renters alike, coupled with a tight supply, has inflated the cost of housing to its highest point since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007.
And stagnant employee wages have failed to keep pace — a troubling mix that has many working families spending a greater percentage of their incomes on housing than is considered financially stable.
And with housing expenses expected to appreciate further — along with other essential commodities like food, gas and clothing — many officials are scrambling to come up with solutions.
The Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice area has the fourth highest rental demand of all metropolitan statistical areas in the country, with an average occupancy of nearly 97 percent, according to data from apartment data provider Axiometrics Inc.
That has pushed up rental rates in the past year up by 6.68 percent — the sixth fastest pace in the nation and nearly double the U.S. average.
For complete article, CLICK HERE <–==========