Hillsborough County Families Cannot Afford their Homes. Affordability is no more than 30% of income being spent on housing costs. Over 200,000 families (40%) pay more than 30% in housing costs in Hillsborough County. 104,540 families (20%) in Hillsborough pay 50% or more on housing; and 74,531 of these families have incomes at 50% and below the Area Median Income (AMI), which is about $32,000 for a family of four. Furthermore, these families often have live in substandard and/or overcrowded housing.
Rents are high, and wages are Low. Based on National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach Report for 2017, an hourly wage of $19.50 or $40,560 per year is needed to afford 2-bedroom apartment in Hillsborough County, at an average cost of $1,014 per month in 2017.
There is not enough housing affordable for families with low incomes in the Tampa/St. Petersburg MSA:
- For every 100 families earning 50% AMI there are only 78 apartments and homes that are affordable.
- For every 100 families earning 30% AMI or less, there are only 27 homes or apartments that are affordable.
By this standard, working families in the County – preschool teachers, cooks, teacher aides, nurse’s aides, Busch Garden employees, waiters and hotel staff people, restaurant workers, et al – face a large deficit between what they are paying for housing and what they can afford.
Families and communities suffer. Families are dislocated to chase affordable rent; must make impossible choices between paying for rent or groceries. The fabric of the family is stressed, and the impacts are felt community wide: children struggle in school due to frequent moves, health problems are more manifest, parents have less time for their children, and aging adults are denied comfort and security in vulnerable years.
Cost burdened families are on the verge of homelessness. The County 5-Year Consolidated Plan found that more than 122,000 extremely low-income persons are “at risk of homelessness” in the County: 24% (29,280) who are children under the age of 17, and 12% (14,640) are under the age of 6. The Oct. 2017 – Sept. 2018 County Affordable Housing Action Plan states the primary cause of homelessness in Hillsborough County is the inability to afford a place to live or their current home is unsafe or unstable.
Cost burdened families are often a car repair, illness, or job loss away from eviction or foreclosure, forcing families to rely on already strained County and City social services, and homeless resources. This is verified by eviction statistics: from 2008 to 2014 there were 10,000-13,000 more evictions filed with the Clerk of the Court each year. The lack of affordable housing is a problem that exists in every community across our County; exists across all racial categories; is overwhelming existing programs and getting worse. The Tampa Housing Authority currently provides housing to over 13,000 low-income and working families in Tampa and Hillsborough County, and their waitlist for the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) has 19,500 families on waitlist. The Section 8 waitlist has now been closed since 2010 and will not reopen for several more years to come.
HOPE organized for 6 years to get the county to establish a Hillsborough Affordable Housing Trust Fund with local dedicated public funding of $10 million for housing that is affordable for working families and seniors.
Our 2018 Nehemiah Action of almost 1,300 people, constantly showing up and speaking at numerous Board of County Commission (BOCC) Meetings led to $5,125,000 of local funds being allocated for affordable housing in the 2019 County Budget. $2,320,000 of these funds were distributed as follows: Metropolitan Ministries “Sabal Place”: $1,100,000 (112 Units); Southport Financial: $1,000,000 (120 units); Florida Housing Coalition: $200,000, and a Shimberg Center Housing Needs Study for Hillsborough: $20,000. Yet, a local Affordable Housing Fund was not established.
At our 2019 Nehemiah Action of over 1,200 people, we got commitments from Commissioners Kemp, Overman, and Smith to support directing County Staff to draft an Ordinance to establish a Hillsborough Affordable Housing Fund of at least $10 million annually in local public funding to create and rehab decent housing that is affordable for working families & seniors with very low incomes. And, then we continued to show up at BOCC Meetings.
Then, Sept. 5, 2019, we got County Commissioners to pass a County Ordinance – the HOPE Affordable Housing Act – establishing the local Affordable Housing Fund that requires the Finance Officer to put at least $10 million of local public funds in the annual County Budget to create, rehab and preserve affordable housing. The Act requires that not less than 30% of the Fund is used for families with very low incomes (50% Area Median Income, AMI) and not less than 30% for families with low incomes (80% AMI). It is capped at 100% AMI. The BOCC since then approved $10,000,000 in the 2020 Budget and $10,000,000 in the 2021 Budget.
In 2020, HOPE leaders continued to show up and speak on the development of the AH Fund Biennial Plan to get more of the 2020 and 2021 Fund to serve families with very low income, as allowed by Ordinance. The Biennial Plan was approved in February 2020. Leaders also monitored the Request for Proposal (RFP) Process that determines the criteria from which organizations are selected to receive funds to create affordable housing.
In May 2020, the BOCC approved $12,610,563 of the “HOPE Fund” to be used to create multi-family rental housing: $5.5 million went to University Area CDC; $4.6 million to New Vision Communities; and $2.4 million to Catholic Charities.
Of the 180 units being developed, 46 of the units are to serve families with very low incomes at 50% AMI; 115 of the units for families with incomes at 60% AMI, and 19 for families with incomes at 80% AMI.