TAMPA, Fla. — Nathan Hagen hears the same heartbreaking story over and over again: the ongoing housing crisis has made many across Tampa Bay fearful of losing their homes because of increased rent prices and a shortage of other affordable options.
“It’s infuriating,” said Hagen, with the pro-affordable housing group Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) Tampa. “It’s really unfair.”
Hagen himself knows the struggle personally.
“You know, I have a lot of privileges in life. I have a good job. You know, I’m not in the upper echelons of what is possible in Tampa for a lot of people, but I do find — I’m not at risk of homelessness — I’m not, you know, unable to put food on the table — but I do find it incredibly difficult to find housing just for myself,” he said.
But he and Kella McCaskill, a realtor and founder of the Center for Economic Development, are doing their part. Saturday, they’ll host a workshop on the topics of rent stabilization and affordable housing at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor Auditorium.
“When you offer the wonderful incentives to be in Florida — no state tax and all the other incentives — the drawback will be our employees can’t find anywhere to live, and I think that’s a big concern,” said McCaskill.
Both Tampa City Council members and Hillsborough County Commissioners have been invited to the workshop. But McCaskill is hoping renters and others concerned about the crisis show up in droves too — to help underscore how serious the problem is.
“Tell them what’s taking place. I mean, I want them to see the sense of urgency. I don’t want you to be able to walk out of that room and not do something,” she said. “They can hear from the community. They can hear the concerns. They can hear how urgent it is. They can see we're not doing anything, and allowing multiple thousands of people to be displaced as the result of increased rents, would resemble a disaster.”
Ultimately, she and Hagen hope the workshop will lead to solutions. Both would like to see changes to zoning that they believe restrict affordable housing. They would also like to see local leaders declare a housing state of emergency.
“If a hurricane came through and destroyed 50,000 homes, and we had 50,000 people who were struggling to find a place to live, we would declare a state of emergency. We are in that crisis right now,” Hagen said.
The free event will happen Saturday at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor Auditorium at 1411 East 11th Avenue in Ybor City. The workshop begins at 9 a.m.
You can register and read more about the workshop and future workshops at this website.