Affordable housing is a challenge for many communities across the country. It is not that Hillsborough County has the highest cost of housing, but more that when you compare housing costs to the average income of families in Hillsborough County we do not score well compared to some other communities. As with many of the issues we have, there are interrelated problems impacting our ability to improve our affordable housing situation. High school graduation rates, skilled labor, and adequate transportation options are all relevant topics when addressing affordable housing.
Short term options to address this issue are available. Donating land, helping with home financing, subsidies to developers, or other creative methods can encourage affordable housing options. These are great tools but they do not necessarily resolve the underlying issues mentioned above.
The problem of affordable housing really must be solved by raising the income of our families to better balance it to cost of housing or working to keep more money in our family’s pockets. Hillsborough County residents spend a considerable amount of their income on transportation – insurance rates are high, fuel is expensive, and cost of owning a vehicle or two is high. Through a robust transportation system that provides options to all residents, residents can expand the area that they can seek employment opportunities because the cost and time spent traveling will be reduced.
Providing a strong focus on the affordable housing issues should be an important component of Hillsborough County government’s decisions. One of the strengths of a community is the ability of the average family to be able afford the housing they need and remain in the community. They need to be close to jobs, their family and friends, and the community they desire to live in.