‘Affordability crisis’ forcing more Jacksonville-area residents out of rental homes

The News4Jax I-TEAM has been hearing from more viewers who are being priced out of their rental homes in what’s being called an “affordability crisis.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM has been hearing from more viewers who are being priced out of their rental homes in what’s being called an “affordability crisis.”

Some viewers said they simply can’t afford rent increases and some are having to move as a result.

News4JAX asked a real estate economist if there is any relief for renters coming in the near future, and unfortunately, they said no.

Florida housing prices have shot up in the national ranking overtaking states like Minnesota and Connecticut. The price of rent is following closely behind, and it has created what economists call an affordability crisis, one that local renters are trying their best to navigate.

The average rent in the Jacksonville area has gone up more than $286 in just over two years. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Hundreds of News4JAX viewers joined in the online conversation when we asked the question: “Are you reconsidering where you live due to cost hikes?”

News4JAX viewer Rachel who lives on the Southside said: “Our rent is going up 25%, a $450 dollar rent hike from $1800. We may have to move, we are both disabled and our apartment was customized for my husband’s wheelchair. It’s impossible to find another accessible unit like this one with such short notice.”

Stephanie said: “My rent is being raised $512.”

Stephanie went on to say she lives in a house on the westside, and added: “I’m moving to Brentwood at the end of the month because I cannot afford the new price.”

Real estate experts say Floridians are in a dilemma.

Florida Atlantic University Real Estate Economist Ken Johnson said on average properties in Jacksonville are renting at 15% more than expected over the past eight years.

Johnson said in just the last year, Jacksonville rental rates have appreciated by 22%, according to eight years of data he says he reviewed on Zillow.

He said Florida’s rental problem is partly tied to the state’s popularity, being one of just three states with no state income tax, but the driving factor behind the hike is the demand for housing.

“In Jacksonville and the rest of Florida, there is just a severe housing shortage,” Johnson said. “There aren’t enough roofs for people to rent and live or own and live, and so those shortages are driving up the price. It’s a market-driven price.”

Johnson says Florida’s affordability crisis could drag on for months or even years.

“We have to find a way to develop more inventory, and this is hard to do the peak of a housing cycle and the middle of a pandemic, because it’s hard to find skilled workers to build apartment buildings, to build homes, so there’s not going to be an immediate solution,” Johnson said.

Johnson said renting is still cheaper than owning a home, while rent is up 15% more than it should be, the price of a home is 30% more than the average.

He anticipates housing prices will settle in the next 12, 24, or 36 months, and when that happens, the price of rent will likely follow.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.