Jan 7, 2022 - Real Estate

The dark side of Tampa's housing boom

Nathan Hagen, co-leader of YIMBY Tampa.
Nathan Hagen, co-leader of YIMBY Tampa. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

Here's a story that doesn't grab the headlines like "Tampa tops list of hot housing markets."

  • This guy up here ☝️ cannot afford a house.
  • That's it. It's simple. But it's a story we don't report enough, and it's important.

Why it matters: It's a problem for all of us if Nathan Hagen, 30, can't afford to buy a house here.

What happened: He grew up in North Tampa and went to school in East Tampa before heading off to the University of Florida for a degree in economics.

Yes, but: When Nathan and his partner were ready to come back in 2012, they couldn’t find an affordable house and settled on renting, hoping to wait out an overheated housing market.

The rub: "Every time we raised our budget the prices went up."

💡 So Nathan started doing some research.

  • He learned about Tampa's 1941 racist city planning and discriminatory housing policy that purposely displaced huge numbers of poor Black people and rewrote code to make big single-family homes the norm.
  • He saw the wealth of data that showed that Florida is in a serious housing crisis.
  • And — this is technical but important — he learned there are now roughly 80,000 high-income households in Tampa who must compete for housing below what they can afford because pricier homes are not available.
  • With virtually no new housing, that squeezes everyone, renters included. Add in a nationwide housing shortage, a surge of millennials into the market, and investors with huge appetites who now buy one in six homes sold. The new housing market is fast, hungry and never satisfied.

What he's saying: "It doesn't matter if you f—d the city plan up 50 years ago or if a hurricane blew through today — if you're 100,000 units short of housing the population, that's an emergency," Hagen tells Axios.

What’s next: Hagen co-leads YIMBY Tampa, part of the national pro-housing group YIMBY Action, and he's working with community leaders in East Tampa to pressure the city to declare a state of emergency.

  • YIMBY is Yes In My BackYard, a response to the NIMBY anti-development movement.

The bottom line: He wants residents who oppose housing — like the #SaveTampaHeights campaign against townhomes or the opposition to a 350-unit apartment complex in Seminole Heights — to understand that we need lots of housing of all kinds, or we all suffer and lose what makes our area great.

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