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Community Meeting Held On Rising Rents As Prices Continue To Rise In Tampa Bay

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Updated April 7, 2022 5:22AM

Buying or renting: Housing prices aren’t slowing down in Bay Area

Briona Arradondo reports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.Rising rents spurred a group meeting Wednesday in St. Petersburg to brainstorm next steps, just as new reports show how much home prices in Tampa Bay continue to rise. 

A recent analysis of federal housing data by real estate app Stessa.com, found Tampa Bay currently has some of the highest rent in the country right now, averaging $1,523. Nick Carey, the Pinellas County organizer with Faith in Florida joined other community advocacy groups and residents Wednesday to talk about what people are facing in St. Pete.

“We’ve heard people with as much as $800 or $1,000 a month,” said Carey about the amount of rent increases. “We’re trying to get people relief as soon as possible because government moves slow. But this crisis is not moving slow, and people are dealing with it.”

Dozens of people attended a housing strategy meeting as part of a monthly get-together to hear from residents and advocacy groups on rising rents and evictions. Faith in Florida, the St. Pete Tenants Union, and other groups want St. Pete to declare a state of emergency for housing and let voters decide on a rent control plan, but that hasn’t happened.

READ: Rents reach ‘insane’ levels across the country with no end in sight

“Rent control is like the medium-term option. We’re advocating for increased notice on if the landlord wants to increase your rent or even having to cover some of your rehousing costs if they raise your rent above three percent,” said Carey. “Then in the long term, we’re calling for the city of St. Pete to provide a guaranteed plan for housing for all our residents.”

There’s been skyrocketing rents and home prices. Brokerage firm Clever real estate published a report last month looking at inflation and home prices finding Tampa home prices went up 223 percent since 2000.

“The most recent statistics which is from GTAR, the Great Tampa Bay Realtors, has the overall Hillsborough County average home price hitting $470,000 or just below that. Two or three years ago just before 2020, these prices were around $250,000, $260,000,” said Greg Szewczyk, a Tampa realtor with Smith and Associates.

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The squeeze just got even harder with inventory for homes dropping by a quarter in the last year, Szewczyk said.

“A lot of native Floridians are being priced out of the home market, where people from New York City are going down here thinking it’s a bargain, and they’re able to put down a lot more for their home purchases than someone who’s lived there their entire life,” he said. 

Realtors said home buying isn’t for everyone since renting may be a better option for some people, but both options remain a challenge.

“The reality is if you haven’t already saved up money, there really isn’t a pathway. Because rents are so high, people aren’t able to save to be able to buy a home if they don’t already have that kind of (money) saved away,” said Carey.

Realtors said the housing market has changed completely from how it used to be now that companies are buying up single-family homes as investments to get out of the stock market.

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