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OPINION: Improve Tampa’s homeless initiatives

As rent goes up, housing becomes more unstable and better initiatives are needed to help the homeless. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR/CHRIS JENSEN

With rent rising in Tampa, it’s become increasingly difficult for people to make ends meet. Current initiatives need to be improved.

As of 2019, there were 1,650 homeless people in Tampa, according to Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative (THHI). Statistics from more recent years prove inaccurate due to lack of information during the pandemic.

When creating programs with transitional housing, the increase in rent price and population takes a toll on its efficiency. This needs to be taken into account, and more landlords should be added to this program to create more opportunities for homeless people.

Transitional housing provides temporary living spaces and supplies for the homeless, according to HUD Exchange’s website. The goal is to successfully move out and maintain permanent housing.

This is a wonderful solution in theory, but when carried out incorrectly, it doesn’t provide the desired effect.

THHI provides a program where landlords are given financial incentive to use vacant rental units to help house those experiencing homelessness, according to its website.

A program like this requires opportunities in the rental market, which are hard to come by now.

Rent in Tampa Bay saw a record 25% increase in 2021, closing the year with a 4.6% vacancy rate, according to an analysis by CoStar Group, a commercial real estate data firm.

With rents going up at the rate they are, limited affordable housing has forced renters to pay more than 30% of their income to secure housing.

An increase this steep can look something like the average rent for single-family homes, condo units and small multi-unit buildings going from $1,561 in February 2021 to $1,999 last month, according to an analysis by Florida real estate academics.

Increases like this are what creates housing insecurity. To properly combat this, more incentive should be given to landlords to join the initiative and provide more possible housing opportunities.

It doesn’t matter how much the housing market is booming in Tampa if we can’t even help those without a home.