Sarasota, Clearwater, Tampa top list of highest rents in Tampa Bay; rent assistance payments slow down

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The latest Emergency Rental Assistance Program data shows that both funding ERA1 and ERA2 programs have ramped up payments since July, but some Tampa Bay communities have slowed down their awards. The programs were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the American economy.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury reported that there have been over 1.4 million households who have received ERA assistance, with $7.7 billion spent since January 2021 across the U.S. In August alone, more than 420,000 households were helped, compared to $340,000 in July.

In the first ERA program, funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund created through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, $1.44 billion was given to Florida, split between the state government and municipalities.

In ERA2, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act delivered an additional $526.6 million to Florida, split between the state and municipal governments..

The August ERA report shows that as the second disbursement of funds came in through ERA2 allocations, spending slowed down, and some local governments in Tampa Bay haven’t spent any of the funds yet. Instead, they’re still working through the ERA1 funds. Still, spending from both programs has slowed.

As a result of the decreased spending, fewer households have been assisted by some of the programs being managed by Tampa Bay municipalities, even as eviction moratoriums ended. The majority of local-run programs did increase spending, or spending stayed at the same level.

Spending by Florida’s state-run ERAP from both programs continued to increase. Zooming in, here’s what the spending over time from the ERA1 program was:

ProgramJan. 1 to March 31, 2021 spending (millions)April 1-30, 2021 spending (millions)May 1-31, 2021 spending (millions)June 1-30, 2021 spending (millions)July 1-31, 2021 spending (millions)Aug. 1-31, 2021 spending (millions)
State of Florida$.0$.0$.1$3.2$12.1$64.9
City of St. Petersburg$.0$.0$.4$1.2$1.7$1.2
City of Tampa$.0$3.8$.7$1.1$2.2
Hillsborough County$.0$.0$2.7$3.5$2.8$5.3
Manatee County$.0$.5$.9$.7$.2$.5
Pasco County$1.5$1.0$1.2$1.4$1.0$1.0
Pinellas County$.0$.1$1.4$2.2$2.5$2.7
Polk County$.6$.7$.7$.0$.8$2.6
Sarasota County$.0$.0$.2$.4$.6$1.1
(Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury)

ERA1 funding in Tampa Bay among the municipalities that received funding has helped a collective 10,103 households, as of Aug. 31, 2021. According to U.S. Treasury data the City of St. Petersburg and Manatee County reduced spending while Pasco County remained unchanged in spending from ERA1 funds in August.

The Treasury data shows decreases in the numbers of households helped even in some counties that didn’t change or reduce ERA1 spending, such as in Pasco where spending stayed the same but fewer households received assistance, dropping to 205 households assisted in August compared to July’s 226.

In the ERA2 program, funding has been available since April 2021. Here’s a breakdown of those numbers:

ProgramApril 1-June 30, 2021 spending (millions)July 1-31, 2021 spending (millionsAug. 1-31, 2021 spending (millions)
Florida$3.4$1.8$3.5
City of Tampa$.0$.0$.0
Manatee County$2.1$.0$.0
Polk County$.0$.0$.0
Hillsborough County$.0$.0$.0
Pinellas County$.0$.0$.0
Sarasota County$.0$.0$.0
Pasco County$.0$.0$.0
City of St. Petersburg$.0$.0$.0
(Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury)

In Tampa Bay, the only municipality to have spent any of the ERA2 funding as of Aug. 31, 2021 was Manatee County. All of that spending occurred in April, when the program funding became available. In total, 344 households were assisted, according to data from the U.S. Treasury.

A rent report analyzing active listings in the Tampa Metro, produced by Zumper, showed that three Tampa Bay cities have the some of the highest rent costs in the state, with Sarasota, Clearwater and Tampa coming in to top the list.

The report showed that the yearly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in all three cities had gone up between 18% to 21%. According to the study, Sarasota and Tampa saw their yearly rent costs grow the fastest, with a 20.7% increase and an 18.5% increase, respectively.

In the three least expensive cities to rent from in the Tampa Metro, Venice, Bradenton and Lakeland, rent either dropped, or rose less dramatically.

Venice rental costs actually decreased by 3%, according to data analyzed by Zumper. Bradenton rent rose by 15%, while Lakeland’s increased by 6%.

Focusing on rent changes month-to-month, Tampa’s increase was the largest in the area, with a 5.2% increase according to Zumper.

Clearwater was not far behind, with rental costs month-to-month increasing 5.1%. Sarasota’s monthly rent costs increased by 5%, though its average cost for a one-bedroom apartment was the highest at $1,690 according to the report by Zumper.

Rental prices continue to rise and the latest job reports still show that the United States is recovering but jobs created are slowing as we head toward the holiday season, and landlords are now able and willing to use evictions to push struggling renters out of their homes.

The additional funding from ERA2 was provided to allow residents to find relief as the economy continues to recover from the shock that the COVID-19 pandemic created. With rent prices rising while wages remain low compared to rental cost, evictions could become more likely heading into 2022.

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