COVID-19 has revealed the depths of Sarasota’s housing crisis — when you’re priced out of the market, where do you go?
Sarasota County has not kept pace with the demand for workforce housing. Government has often waived large workforce housing components of major developments despite a growing need for decades. Though there are local workforce housing plans and a plethora of best practices available, local governments have made no concerted effort to incentivize developers to produce this vital resource. Now the county and region find themselves with a crisis in both rental housing and single-family availability.
A coalition of foundations and community and business leaders convinced the Sarasota County Commission to add $20 million to a $5 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act dollars for workforce housing. That money would be used for leveraging $137 million in projects creating 623 workforce housing units.
Imagine the work that could be accomplished – the families saved from homelessness and the mental well-being of workers who no longer would have to worry about meeting their rent requirements – if there were a recurring funding source that could support such a workforce housing lift each year. It would not be sufficient to meet all the demand for housing, but it would ease the problem.