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Business Observer Friday, May 13, 2022 4 months ago

Housing affordability, resiliency take center stage at conference

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The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council event drew leaders from across the region, including Pasco and Manatee counties.

Tampa Bay’s housing supply faces threats both environmental and economic in nature, which is why the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council hosted a meeting May 6 in St. Petersburg that aimed to spotlight the need for more homes that are affordable but also hardened against rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.

St. Petersburg City Council Member Brandi Gabbard speaks at the Resilience and Energy Assessment of Communities and Housing Conference. (Courtesy photo)

The Resilience and Energy Assessment of Communities and Housing Conference, held at the Hilton Carillon Park Hotel, was also supported by the Florida Housing Coalition, Forward Pinellas, the Urban Land Institute Tampa Bay and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. It came about a month after a resiliency summit at the same venue. 

REACH leaders presented and discussed a new analysis of flood risks to affordable housing, with a goal of getting communities to adopt new construction and mitigation goals. Additionally, housing experts from across Tampa Bay shared new initiatives that would increase housing construction, affordability and resilience.

“Not only are housing and rent prices skyrocketing in Tampa Bay, but our region faces significant threats with sea level rise and flooding,” Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council Chairwoman and St. Pete City Council Member Brandi Gabbard states in a news release about the event. “We must proactively find new ideas to keep people safe and protect their homes for years to come.” 

The conference also focused on ways to reduce energy bills, including weatherization and energy efficiency programs, as well as opportunities to increase funding for housing mitigation efforts in vulnerable communities.

“This is an opportunity for Tampa Bay housing leaders to work together and really set a regional vision,” says Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, one of the conference’s featured speakers. “In our history, this issue has never been more urgent and important as it is now.”

The City of St. Petersburg, the release states, has allocated $34.3 million to build affordable housing units, whose tenants won’t have to spend more than 30% of their income on rent. In Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor has set a goal of 10,000 affordable apartments by 2027.

“With people already struggling to afford rent with rising inflation, we must act quickly to provide relief,” Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh states in the release. “The REACH conference is a step in the right direction to promote regional collaboration.”

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