NewsPrice of Paradise


Tampa Bay area needs affordable housing and not rent caps, real estate expert says

Posted at 10:31 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 23:20:17-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — As rent in the Tampa Bay area skyrockets, many have asked for relief through rental caps.

So far, several area governments have said the move would bring legal trouble. But we wanted to know if it would make a difference economically, so we spoke to Florida Gulf Coast University Real Estate professor Dr. Shelton Weeks.

"I would say definitively. I would say rent control would be the absolute worst thing that we could do," he said.

Dr. Weeks said though it sounds good on paper, rent caps typically discourage developers leading to stagnated growth.

"Capping or restricting the returns that someone can generate is only going to discourage investment," he said.

On top of that, he also said it often leads to scams.

"You might say 'Alright Shelton, I'll lease you my apartment, you can take over this lease but in order to do so you're going to have to buy my television from me.' And maybe it's a 20-year-old television that's not worth five bucks but I need to pay you two-thousand dollars," he said.

In his opinion, what local leaders need to do is provide more affordable housing.

It's something, new Habitat for Humanity homeowner, Pamela Mitchell knows something about. She closed on her new home Tuesday and it took her seven months of hard work to get it done.

"I wouldn't have been able to do it, I couldn't have afforded it that's for sure. At least not the quality house that I'm getting today," she said.

Mitchell said the house is a godsend in this current market, but it also means generational wealth in future housing markets.

"I can pass this house down to my boys. They won't have to rent. They can live here for however long they want to keep this home," she said.

The CEO of Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco, Mike Sutton, said they're looking to build 70 homes this year to help others like Pamela.

RELATED: Habitat for Humanity proposes multifamily developments to help more Pinellas and Pasco families

"With habitat, they get an affordable mortgage and that mortgage will never change," he said.

Sutton added that what has changed is the cost to build.

"Our homes are costing us $30,000 more than they did pre-pandemic."

Thankfully, Sutton said Habitat for Humanity and 83 of its affiliates groups just received $436 million in unrestricted giving from American author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Of that number, Habitat for Humanity Pinellas and West Pasco got $11 million and Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County got $7.5 million.

As Tampa Bay continues to attract new residents and businesses, the impact of living in paradise comes at a cost for all of us— from the increasing cost of housing and infrastructure to utilities and insurance. ABC Action News is committed to helping you and your family make the most of your money and navigate through the Price of Paradise.