SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents across Tampa Bay have been raising concerns about the growing need for affordable housing. The latest data from Apartment List, shows Sarasota’s rent prices climbed at a greater rate than any other city in the state.

“When we look specifically at Sarasota, we have seen really no deceleration of the rental market. Right now according to our latest rent estimates, rent prices in Sarasota are about 50% up from where they were just one year ago,” said senior research associate with Apartment List Rob Warnock.

The rapid rise in rent is a growing concern for workers in just about any industry.

Casey Kelly is a healthcare worker in Sarasota. He reached out to 8 On Your Side hoping to bring awareness to the affordable housing crisis. He moved to the area in June 2021. Since then, he says his rent has risen 60 percent.

“I reached out because I think it is important for people to understand that everyone is being affected by this, particularly healthcare workers. We go into this field because we want to make a difference in people’s lives and we want to be that difference in critical moments. We are being priced out of living in these places where we want to provide care and it is really disheartening,” said Kelly.

In January, Sarasota County Commissioners voted to dedicate $25 million in federal funds to affordable housing projects. Before they came to that decision, they heard from countless community stakeholders, including the head of human resources for the county’s largest health care system.

“Sarasota Memorial is challenged with this each and every day. We are challenged from a retention standpoint. We are hearing from our employees that they are receiving 200, 300, $400 rental increases and that they are not going to be able to hold on for much longer,” said Laurie Bennet in the January meeting. “Affordable housing really is a challenge for us each and every day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear that we have lost multiple offers. Some days as many as six offers to out-of-state candidates who just say ‘I can’t afford it’,” she continued.

The latest data from Apartment List shows the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,175 in Sarasota. The national average is $1,294.