TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa City Council made a move to address the problem of affordable housing on Thursday, as the crisis shows no signs of letting up.
At their weekly meeting, the city council approved a plan to buy more land for the development of affordable housing.
During the meeting, public comment focused almost entirely on the city’s rising rent.
An Apartment List July report shows rent in Tampa has gone up six months in a row, and remains above the U.S. average.
“The housing crisis is at a point where it is becoming catastrophic. It is no longer a crisis,” Linda Wiggins-Chavis said during public comment. She is the organizer of the group Faith in Florida.
Council members agreed that the situation is beyond a crisis.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg if we don’t start moving real quick,” said Council Member Guido Maniscalco.
Council members unanimously approved buying five pieces of land in East Tampa for affordable housing. The property could provide space for up to 100 affordable housing units.
Members of the community said more urgent action is needed.
“The only way we can do this is by legalizing more housing types, including triplexes and quadplexes, broadly throughout the city,” said Nathan Hagen with Yes In My BackYard Tampa.
“We have a lot of situations where homes are being built and it’s a previously affordable home that’s being replaced by a McMansion that’s 5000 square feet and costs $1.5 million. That doesn’t help our housing supply,” said Hagen. “The only reason that’s happening is because it’s illegal to build anything else but that there.”
City council members expressed frustration, saying state regulations are keeping their hands tied.
“It’s criminal the way people are living, and the fact that you’re telling us we can’t do anything about it, it’s like standing in front of a burning building with people inside saying, ‘oh you can’t go fight that fire,'” said council member Lynn Hurtak.