HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL – Jim Caramello’s phone rings every day, and several times when he answers he hears a similar story: A tenant’s landlord raises the rent at a rate the tenant can no longer afford .

Caramello, real estate director for the University Area Community Development Corporation – a 501 (c) (3) public / private partnership that seeks to establish more affordable housing in neighborhoods around the University of South Florida – said the The demand for affordable housing is so overwhelming that it far exceeds a very limited supply.

“We had 900 people a day moving to Florida. We don’t build 900 houses a day, ”he said. “Everyone who moves here creates a larger deficit in our homes that are already taxed.

Caramello said the University Zone CDC is in the early stages of building two new residential developments. One project will create 30 to 40 new townhouses near the university. The other, called Uptown Sky, will create a 61-apartment complex at the corner of 12th Street and Fletcher Avenue.

CDC University Zone

But, as Caramello is quick to admit, that’s not enough.

Hillsborough County leaders like Commissioner Kimberly Overman, who represents District 7, are trying to do their part to create more.

“Before the pandemic, we had a deficit of over 55,000 units,” she said, adding that the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem she considers the most urgent in the county. . “We have seen an increase of around 20% not only in the value of the land, but also in the rental value. So there is now a greater number of affordable housing needs in Hillsborough County. “

A few weeks ago, Hillsborough County Commissioners passed an expense, led by Overman, which she hopes will help. Commissioners budgeted $ 750,000 to establish a community land trust (CLT), a relatively new concept that is becoming more common across the country and state.

“It’s another tool in the toolkit to meet the need – and the great need – for affordable housing for our workforce,” said Overman.

Once the county establishes its community land trust, the trust acquires land where houses or apartments exist or where new units can be built, families will purchase the housing, but the trust will retain ownership of the land.

The arrangement allows the trust to keep prices lower and more affordable for low and moderate income families. Overman said community land trusts also have the ability to stabilize communities by preventing gentrification.

“It keeps costs down,” she said.… Unaffordable.

Over the next three to four months, Overman said the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Council will begin to organize the government structure that will oversee the land trust. The governing body of the land trust will need to establish regulations, financial infrastructure and other mechanisms to make the land trust self-sustaining. It will also have to identify partners to help it achieve its objectives.

While Caramello understands the process will take time, he appreciates the county’s decision to create more affordable housing.

“The only way to increase the number of affordable housing is to increase the number of affordable housing,” he said. “If we don’t build more, we won’t have any.”

The Hillsborough County Affordable Housing Advisory Board will meet on Monday morning, and Overman expects board members to get a brief update on the recently approved community land trust funding before discussing further strategies to improve the county’s affordable housing supply.

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