Dusty Ricketts: Creative thinking needed to solve Panhandle’s affordable housing crisis

Jene J. Long

COMMENTARY | By the mid-2000s, Okaloosa County was going through a disaster. Homelessness experienced developed to become a main concern. There was no shelter on the south stop of the county and expert services to aid these individuals were being split up among the different businesses.

About 2006, the challenge experienced turn into so common that the Better Fort Walton Beach Chamber, region nonprofits, churches, law enforcement companies, and municipal and county governments started functioning alongside one another to try to find a answer.

It took a whole lot of challenging work, but by November 2016, the 1 Hopeful Spot homeless shelter opened and has continued to grow its providers ever considering the fact that with the assist of several people and teams.

Dusty Ricketts

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Now in 2022, the community is experiencing a further disaster and we need to have that variety of motion all over again.

The crisis we’re dealing with now is the price tag of rental housing, which has gotten so out of hand that it really is a obstacle for people in the service marketplace or just beginning out to uncover a place to hire they can manage.

When I initial moved to Northwest Florida in November 2002, I initially moved in with some buddies from Indiana who had been dwelling on Okaloosa Island. The upcoming yr, I received my initially condominium. It was on Monahan Generate in Fort Walton Beach, had a pleasant look at of the Choctawhatchee Bay if you did not thoughts seeking at a dumpy houseboat or the laundry making to see the h2o.

I paid $425 a month for that one-bedroom apartment until Hurricane Ivan arrived alongside and ripped off its roof. That was additional than I was wanting to fork out, but I could afford to pay for it on my wage as a reporter at The Destin Log.

But that was almost 20 several years back. Nowadays, you would be tricky to come across a space for hire in Fort Walton Beach for $425 a thirty day period. In actuality, most rooms for rent in Fort Walton stated on roomies.com are going for double that total and much more.

Outrageous inflation we’ve all been working with the past calendar year or two has absolutely contributed to the rental price raises, just about every thing is far more high priced now.

I imagine a even larger aspect triggering prices to increase so considerably domestically is the navy and its Essential Allowance for Housing. The BAH just isn’t a undesirable detail automatically and our airmen and troopers definitely are entitled to it and more for their service.

But according to the BAH calculator on DefenseTravel Management Office’s internet site, the approximated BAH allowance for a private with no dependents in the 32548 zip code is $1,599 a month. That amount goes up to $1,965 if they have dependents.

If I experienced rental house, why would not I charge at minimum $1,599 a thirty day period if I realized absolutely everyone at Eglin could pay for that with their BAH allowance alone?

Unfortunately, charging that a lot for hire costs out so lots of folks.

We have skilled that problem right here at the Northwest Florida Every day Information. Previously this yr we employed a new reporter who was likely to be relocating from out of state. They could not find an condominium or home to hire they could manage and had to again out on starting up.

Journalism has under no circumstances been one of the higher having to pay industries. We know that heading into it, but we do it due to the fact we enjoy the market and maintaining the general public informed. But our staff always has been equipped to find the money for to reside listed here in the past.

Locating a resolution to the outrageous rental costs is going to be complicated. Possibly just as complicated as tackling the homeless situation a decade back. And like that dilemma, it almost certainly in no way definitely will be solved, but we’ve obtained to appear collectively to obtain methods to strengthen the problem.

The county and municipalities have started off to address the problem, creating committees to research the difficulty and working with developers to present additional cost-effective possibilities. That is a very good start, but we want extra outside the house-the-box thoughts.

Previous thirty day period, a single of Jim Thompson’s final tales before he retired was conversing with Andres Duany, the architect and city planner who created the Walton County neighborhood of Seaside. Duany’s present focus is on finding methods to the affordable housing difficulty, with his proposal concentrating on a new choose on the small houses.

Duany’s constructions are easily transportable, can be crafted in other places and introduced to the community and positioned on raw land or even in parking tons. Duany’s firm, No Nonsense Housing Business, has made a 400-square-foot living place that can accommodate as quite a few as four persons, presents two bedrooms, two full baths and room for a washer and dryer.

Duany was in Seaside speaking to small business homeowners there about acquiring the $80,000 little households and featuring them to possible staff as an incentive to appear work for them.

As region counties and municipalities get a lot more critical about tackling the very affordable housing challenge, I hope they take into account Duany’s challenge and other out-of-the-box solutions.

Dusty Ricketts is the written content mentor for the Northwest Florida Everyday News. He can be achieved at [email protected]

This posting initially appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: Very affordable housing starting to be a significant problem in Northwest Florida

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