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Skyrocketing rent: Tampa Bay cities see double digit rent increases in the past year

Posted at 5:52 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 17:54:40-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New numbers from a survey conducted by "Apartment Guide" show it’s getting tougher for families in Tampa Bay to afford rent. The rent spikes are happening on both sides of the bay but are most noticeable in St. Petersburg, where rent prices have spiked double digits in the past year.

“The price is just ridiculous,” Nicole Thomas said explaining how she's seen her rent climb.

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“It’s like holy cow!” Susan Sisson exclaimed.

Both women are Pinellas County residents and say they have sticker shock.

“Rent is unaffordable," Thomas said. "You have to work not two jobs, but three jobs to live comfortably. It’s just crazy.”

Thomas tells ABC Action News she's had to pick up extra shifts to cover her rent payments. Sisson says she has had to add roommates to help split the costs.

A study recently released by Apartment Guide looked at 100 cities across the US and ranked St. Pete as the fourth highest city for rental rate increases.

The price of a one bedroom apartment climbed 20% from 2018 to 2019. In 2019, the average cost for a one bedroom apartment in St. Petersburg, according to Apartment Guide, is $1,545.

Tampa also made the list for cities with high rent increases. In Tampa, one bedroom apartment rent has jumped up 12% from 2018 to 2019.

Daniel Harris is among the lucky ones. He snagged the second to last apartment at a rent controlled affordable housing development called Burlington Place in St. Pete.

"I am so very grateful. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to afford to live in this area," he elaborated.

Leaders on both sides of the bay are making a commitment to add more affordable housing. St Petersburg is making a 10-year commitment to spent $60 million to build 2,400 affordable apartments. In Hillsborough County, leaders are pledging to set aside $10 million every year for a local affordable housing trust fund.

Joshua Johnson, the St Peterburg's Director of Housing, says they're also hoping to use Penny For Pinellas sales tax dollars to build additional affordable housing units.

“So we’re going to do everything and use everything in our toolbox to make sure this city prospers for everybody,” he said.

Thomas says the help can't come soon enough for hundreds of families struggling to make ends meet.

“The price is just ridiculous and we're in trouble,” Thomas exclaimed.

The Apartment Guide study also found similar rent increases for studio and two bedroom apartments.

The average rent for a studio apartment increased by 13.4 percent in Tampa and 28.5% in St. Petersburg in 2019.

For one-bedroom apartments, the average rent rose 10% in Orlando, 19.9% in St. Petersburg and 21.7% in Miami. For two-bedroom apartments, the average rent increased 19.5% in St. Petersburg, 18.1% in Miami, 12% in Tampa and 10.5% in Orlando.