SATURDAY OCTOBER 15, 2022 |
Our workable housing situation was pre-COVID and pre-Hurricane Ian crisis. The mass migration to Florida because of COVID remote work opportunities, and now the hurricane, has enormously intensified our achievable housing crisis. The county as a whole needs to pay attention, but especially the Sarasota City Commission, which will consider changes to encourage the construction of accessible housing.
Many of those who serve the city as police officers, nurses, city school teachers and first responders have been forced to live in the southern part of the county and travel to Sarasota. A large number live in North Port and Englewood. These are the same people who lost their homes temporarily, and some permanently, to Ian’s destruction. Housing was already a premium, but now those who lived on the edge of homelessness are now effectively homeless and looking for a place to live, further increasing demand.
This problem is compounded by the fact that Hurricane Ian crossed the state of Florida and even left the state with hurricane gusts, leaving a band of winds and flooding destruction from coast to coast. . The city of Sarasota is not the only municipality facing this problem; this makes this disaster-related increase in housing demand a statewide dilemma. Workers who move away from the area for housing will not solve this problem, they will not be able to find it.
Axios recently wrote about affordable housing and disasters in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in an October 5 article. The author demonstrated how disasters diminish the supply of affordable housing and that many are forced to leave because they cannot afford to live in the area. Unfortunately, according to Axios, the slowest category of housing to rebuild is rental.
On Monday, the city commission will vote on second reading of ordinances amending the city’s comprehensive plan to adopt policies to facilitate the construction of affordable housing in the city of Sarasota. They heard the appeals of young professionals at first reading and, to their credit, the commissioners publicly acknowledged that many workers could not attend as they worked to provide housing for their families. This first reading was also before Ian’s devastation.
This second reading is now even more important to the future of the City of Sarasota and the future of the workforce that supports it. The affordable housing crisis has worsened significantly for the city in a matter of weeks. While these votes won’t wave a magic wand and solve the problem immediately, they will put the city on the path to developing specific tools to encourage the construction of accessible housing.
The Argus Foundation supported changes to Sarasota’s comprehensive city plan before the hurricane. We continue to support these changes to help our workforce. We need it more than ever.
Christine Robinson is Executive Director of the Argus Foundation.
Graphic courtesy of the City of Sarasota: “Missing Middle” overlay district.