By Ti'Anna Davis
Floridians must work the equivalent of three full-time minimum wage jobs just to afford a modestly priced two-bedroom apartment in the state.
The number of hours someone earning Florida’s minimum wage must work to afford the rent on such a home increased from 104 work hours per week in 2018 to 108 hours this year, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Florida’s affordable housing ranked as the 15th most expensive state this year by what’s called the “state housing wage.”
In 2019, people would have to make $22.86 per hour, up from $21.50 last year, to afford the average rent of $1,189 a month, up from $1,118.
Minimum wage in Florida is currently $8.46 an hour.
GROWING UNAFFORDABLE: Read the WUSF special report
Char Lerch is a member of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress & Equality (HOPE). The group has been working to improve the low-income housing for minimum wage workers and address other issues that affect the community.
Lerch said Hillsborough County families that are living in the same rental as five years ago are now paying twice as much as they did then.
On April 17, the Hillsborough County Commission directed the County Attorney’s Office to draft an ordinance for an affordable housing trust fund in an amount of $10 million a year.
On June 19, the HOPE organization asked commissioners for a progress report on the ordinance, as well as attempted to find out exactly how that $10 million budget will be spent.
“If you just throw money at the problem without (knowing) how it can be spent, the people who need it the most will not receive that assistance,” Lerch said.
She encourages people who are concerned about the lack of affordable housing in the region to speak up.
“The biggest thing that you can do is join together with us because the more people that are united to bringing it to the commissioners’ attention that this problem is not going away, that it is getting worse, the more likely they are to act and act well,” Lerch said.