UNF study finds nearly half of renters in Jacksonville are ‘cost burdened.’ Are you?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The JAX Rental Housing Project — a University of North Florida community-based project — found 47.4% of renters in Jacksonville live in a “cost-burdened household.”

According to the study, to be considered a “moderately cost-burdened household,” residents pay more than 30% and up to 50% of their income for housing. To be considered “severely cost-burdened,” residents are paying more than 50% of their household income for housing.

The data reported shows that 23.2% of Jacksonville renters live in a severely cost-burned home, and that of all households in Jacksonville, 30% are cost-burdened.

The data was sourced from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau and 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

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The results should come as little surprise. The News4JAX I-TEAM has done numerous stories on rising rent costs in the Jacksonville area throughout the previous year.

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Digging through the results, the highest percentage of those considered to be in a severely burned household — 76.2% — made under $15,000 annually. The highest percentage living in a moderately burdened household — 54.1% — made between $30,000 and $45,000 per year.

Notably, 21.9% of those in the $45,000 to $75,000 income bracket still reported living in a moderately burdened household.

UNF Sociology Professor David Jaffee, who compiled the report, spoke with WJCT’s Melissa Ross on First Coast Connect. He says both private equity companies and big investors have altered the local housing market.

“They expect a return on their investment,” Jaffee told Ross. “And, therefore, a large part of this increase is related to the fact that there are shareholders who are expecting some kind of return on their investment in the properties in Jacksonville.

“So, we have renters (and) tenants in Jacksonville struggling to pay rent. And at the other end, you have investors that are reaping the benefits of this sharp spike in rents in Jacksonville. And, it’s not just in Jacksonville. This is a national problem, but much more significant in the southeast, the major metropolitan areas and all of the major metropolitan areas in Florida.”

From Riverside, to the Brooklyn neighborhood, and even San Marco — luxury apartments are popping up.

News4JAX met Elise Kolmer at Memorial Park on her day off. She’s a local bartender who says she must be more frugal with her earnings to make sure she has enough money saved for rent. And she’s not alone when it comes to workers in the service industry.

“I see a lot of restaurant workers working 100 hours a week to make ends meet,” she told us.

Then we went to areas along Ken Knight Drive, which is in one of the lowest income ZIP codes in the state. Resident Litisha Brown says rent in the neighborhood is still high, and her paycheck is barely enough to cover it.

“A whole paycheck goes to rent. You have nothing left,” Brown said. “I work at the airport from 11 to 7 at night, and it’s hard … Nothing is left over once I get paid and pay my rent. That’s it.”

Then we met Bonita Miller who moved back to Jacksonville from Maryland. Although she now owns her home, she understands what renters are facing.

“I looked into the prices for apartments, and it was astonishing to see the costs considering the area,” Miller said. “You can’t ask for the costs you’re asking for rent in areas that seem underdeveloped in terms of security. There are a lot of things going on in these pockets of town. So, I was taken aback by how much they were asking.”

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