Humanzee Tribe Members Spark Great Conversation
This article is by Grammy and is based on exchange she had with Rhonda on Twitter. These ladies are two fervent fans of the podcast, and we are thrilled to have this article for you.
In recent years, I have lived the winter months mostly in northeastern Florida, near Jacksonville. I lived in Ponte Vedra Beach (PVB), south of Jacksonville Beach on the east coast. This area is the mecca of PGA Tour golf. The TPC Sawgrass property also houses the PGA headquarters. The area is also home to several other national sport headquarters. And the best part of this area, semi-private beaches within two world-class beach resorts. This info is vital to the next paragraph.
In large metro areas like Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami, the local workforce is 80 percent service industry workers. Florida is a tourist industry state. Beaches, sports and amusement parks make up the majority of industry. Year round crops are still grown in the state, mostly known for citrus and sugar cane. But, some areas such as Jacksonville and Miami, have white collar industries in regional/national business offices. Another large industry that has grown in the last few years is healthcare.
The issue that has been present for many years, the real estate market in the entire state has risen greatly in value since the 1950’s and recently put most buyers of a lower income out of the buyers housing market.
In the case of Jacksonville, which I have personal experience with, the service industry workforce is unable to purchase homes in the areas of town in which they work. In PVB, the average single family home price in 2019 was $500,000 for a 2000 square foot build. Today, that price is well above $750,000.
The increase of home prices rose very quickly due to the amount of people relocating to Florida from northern states during Covid. With home prices in the northern states much higher than the home prices in Florida, at that time, people relocating to the state were able to make cash offers for a limited amount of existing homes. New construction homes were not figured into the equation due to the down market of building supplies affected by the global supply chain issues.
The people relocating that were forced out of the bidding wars for existing homes were pushed into townhomes and condos, which would have been an option for the higher-end of the service industry workers. This puts most service workers trying to live close to work into apartments.
But this is also a huge problem. In order to build enough apartments to supply housing to these service workers, large parcels of land are needed to handle the local building codes for apartment communities. In order to keep the rents at a level that is affordable to the service workers, many communities are very large in size, sometimes having 20 or more buildings, and are increasing in height, adding more floors to take advantage of lower construction costs of building up, not out.
If you do find land available and usable to build, it is itself expensive and probably not located near the source of jobs. Public transportation is not as available in these areas due to the land size of the metro areas. In the case of PVB, those workers come from the land side of the area. PVB is on the island strip of land that makes up the areas of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. The Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) separates the land side from the water side. All land on the water side is considered beach homes, even though many are 50’s and 60’s style ranch homes, which in any other area would be the type of homes available to the service workers.
The available homes that fit the income levels of the service workers are located near the city of Jacksonville proper and are older and smaller in size. The problem with these areas are the distance of drive for the workers to travel for their jobs. The area of Jacksonville metro, from the west side of the area to the beaches, is approx 60 miles. Even with the newer roads of 4 to 8 lanes, it would take an hour or more to travel each way, with limited public transportation.
This same range of problems affect other areas in the state that rely on lower wage earners in the service industry. The $259M SHIP portion of the Live Local Act will provide funds to construct affordable housing near the areas of concentrated industries.
Also, Jacksonville is home to 2 USNaval bases, Mayport on the coast and NSAJax located in the interior land space of Jacksonville. With all military bases, providing housing for military members is a huge problem. With the numbers of members at any base, post or camp increasing over the years, the available land inside the military installations is limited.
The DOD made provisions after WWII with the VA Loan program and wage adjustments for living off the installations. This opened the home buyer arena to double the numbers in areas near installations. But, the wage adjustments for off base housing do not always provide the members enough to rent or buy in areas near the installations or in areas that are safe for the families to live in while the members may be deployed. The $252M SAIL portion of the Live Local Act is dedicated to military housing and special projects.
Another $100M is allocated to help with down payments within certain industries.
To wrap up this sample of information regarding the Live Local Act, the need is great for affordable housing in areas of industry, which may be located in overbuilt areas. This has been a real issue for Florida and the residents for years but the vast migration of new residents to the state during Covid have made this issue an urgent problem for Gov DeSantis and the State.