Housing affordability is about more than just creating homes with rents or mortgages that people can afford. For many households, transportation is also a major expense that affects housing affordability. The cost to maintain a car, or more than one, can take a serious toll on the amount of money households have to spend on where they live. But in Pinellas County, there just aren’t many alternatives. Without a robust transit system, it’s difficult to get from home to a job – or to school, the grocery store, or a doctor’s appointment – without a car.
It makes sense to build affordable homes, jobs, education, and services close together and link them with transit. The best place to do that is on our major commercial corridors, where we have vacant and underutilized land that can be redeveloped to accommodate new homes and businesses. If we transition to higher-density buildings that are designed to support transit, we can fit more homes and jobs on less land which will help make living in Pinellas County more affordable.
- The Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index estimates the cost of housing and transportation for a given community. In Pinellas County, the average household spends 33% of its income on housing, and another 24% on transportation, or a total of 57% spent just on those two items.
- The Advantage Pinellas Long-Range Transportation Plan identifies investment corridors that are most appropriate for enhanced transit.
Planning for Healthy Communities
Healthy homes support good physical and mental health. According to public health studies, a healthy home is one that is affordable, safe, and free from hazards, and located to provide access to a variety of services and resources, such as healthcare providers, grocery stores, parks, jobs, and schools.
- Affordability & Stability – When families and individuals struggle to pay the rent, they may also struggle to eat healthy meals or pay for their medicine or doctors’ appointments. In comparison, providing access to stable, affordable housing can reduce healthcare costs and improve health.
- Quality & Safety – The conditions of the home can have a significant effect on the people living there. Quality and safety issues may include water leaks, pest infestations, lead exposure, exposure to extreme heat or cold, and overcrowding. Overcrowding has long been an important health topic, but COVID-19 sheds a new light on the risks of crowding. Overcrowding is contributing to the spread of COVID-19, and in some cases ravaging whole families. Exposure to other substandard conditions may increase the risk of injuries (e.g., exposed wiring, trip hazards due to broken steps or flooring, etc.) and illness (e.g., increased asthma attacks due to mold, pests, or other allergens).
- Neighborhood – In addition to the conditions of the home, it is important to think about the opportunities and hazards that are present in the surrounding neighborhood. Examples of neighborhood opportunities include jobs, sidewalks, grocery stores, public transportation, and healthcare, while examples of neighborhood hazards may include crime, segregation, high volume/speed roads, and proximity to industrial areas or other toxins/pollutants.
- Health in All Policies (HiAP): HiAP is a collaborative approach to improve the health of all people by incorporating health and equity considerations into decisions made across sectors and policy areas. For more information, see HiAP resources from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Several local governments in Tampa Bay use the “Health in All Policies” approach: City of Pinellas Park, City of St. Petersburg, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County.
- Plan4HealthyFlorida: a compilation of tools and resources that encourage cross-sector collaboration between planners and public health professionals.
- National Center for Healthy Housing Tools and Data: includes resources, tools, model codes, best practices, data, and case studies regarding healthy housing.
- Healthy Building Resources and Certifications: There are a variety of healthy building design and construction certifications and checklists.
- National Healthy Housing Standard: Provides minimum performance standards for a safe and healthy home. Designed for use by property owners, elected officials, code enforcement, and anyone else concerned with housing and health.
- Explore other checklists and standards.
- Healthy Housing Rewards™ (from Fannie Mae) provides financial incentives for borrowers who incorporate health-promoting design features and practices or resident services in their newly constructed or rehabilitated multifamily affordable rental properties.
- Understand health inequities in your community using the CDC PLACES data set. PLACES provides estimates for chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes, and clinical preventive services use to all counties, places (incorporated and census designated places), census tracts, and ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) across the United States.
Racial & Socioeconomic Equity
Lower-income, minority, and elderly residents are disproportionately likely to live in cost-burdened households, which means that they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Local governments have an important role to play in advancing racial and socioeconomic equity through housing and development policies and strategies.
The Tampa Bay region is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country, experiencing frequent storms and persistent flooding. Due to our coastal geography and changing climate, the region faces additional threats from sea level rise and frequent severe flooding from heavy rainstorms. Climate change is no longer a possible future, it’s our present reality, and it’s up to us to adapt to the changing world so our communities can continue to thrive.
- The online Countywide Plan Map shows coastal high-hazard areas where higher densities are not allowed without careful planning and mitigation.
- The Pinellas County Sustainability and Resiliency Program is designed to set measurable, achievable goals and steps toward a more sustainable and resilient Pinellas.
- The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council’s Resilience and Energy Assessment of Communities and Housing (REACH) Initiative is designed to integrate planning for resiliency, neighborhood revitalization, and affordable housing priorities across the Tampa Bay region.
There is no state in the U.S. that has an adequate supply of rental housing that is affordable and available to households with extremely low income, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Florida is one of the states where extremely low-income renters face the greatest challenge in finding affordable homes, with only 28 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households (National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2021). The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes. Washington, DC.). The issue of affordable housing cuts across Pinellas County communities and affects all Pinellas County residents; therefore, we need a collaborative approach.
- Other communities around the country have formed partnerships to address affordable housing. Examples of these partnerships include:
- Housing Metro Boston: The Metropolitan Mayors Coalition launched a Regional Housing Taskforce to create goals and strategies for regional housing production in the 15 participating communities.
- Miami-Dade Affordable Housing Framework: The Framework establishes a shared goal of producing or preserving affordable homes for 210,000 households by 2030 by 1) identifying shared priorities; 2) prioritizing a development pipeline; and 3) changing the policies and financing environment that facilitate that pipeline.
- Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) Compact: A 15-year emergency policy package to confront the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area, led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in partnership with local governments, private companies and major employers (i.e. Facebook), developers, non-profit housing providers, etc.
The Housing Compact partners will begin work on an action plan in 2023.
The Housing Compact partnership will begin work on a regulatory toolkit in 2023. The toolkit will provide a menu of options that can be used to increase the availability of affordable housing in Pinellas County.