Editorial: Tampa Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan is a Smarter Approach
The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board explains why Mayor Jane Castor has the right approach to affordable housing.
Tampa is taking a smarter approach to housing that would benefit residents, neighborhoods and employers alike. A combination of new financing and regulatory changes could expand the availability of affordable housing, helping residents build wealth under more stable living conditions that ultimately would benefit the entire local economy. There are challenges to converting this proposal into reality, but it’s an ambitious stab at a pressing problem that wisely involves both government and business.
The new strategy, unveiled this week, emerged from one of several task forces Tampa Mayor Jane Castor appointed after taking office last year. Castor wanted input from housing officials, developers, lenders and community advocates on how to address this key campaign priority. The recommendations are a fresh take that should unify and sharpen local housing efforts.
To start, the city would work with Hillsborough County to get a firmer grip on the scope of the crisis. How many housing units are needed – and what type and where – to meet the demand and in the years ahead? Tampa’s growth has accelerated the need for housing while also raising construction costs and depleting the pool of contractors interested in building affordable units. Last year, the report noted, only about five percent of the nearly 900 permits issued for new residential homes were pegged to units “classified as affordable housing.” The limited supply has fueled a cycle of rising rents, higher home prices and gentrification, especially in older neighborhoods, as investors and middle-income families compete with poorer residents for the same properties.
Read more here.