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Flagler Housing Forum Scheduled Amid Affordable Housing Crisis

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The Flagler County government has announced it will be hosting a forum in May regarding housing policy, particularly affordable housing. Leaders in the housing and development industries will serve as panelists during the luncheon event, which is titled ‘From Blueprint to Action: Local Strategies for Housing Policy Advancement’.

The event will be held on Friday, May 17th from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm at the Palm Coast Community Center. Admission is free, but those who intend to go are encouraged to reserve a ticket through the Eventbrite listing. Light lunch will be provided.

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Event Details

The panelists for the event were given in a release by the county, and are as follows:

  • Scott Culp – Principal, Atlantic Housing Partners
  • Kody Glazer – Chief Legal & Policy Officer, Florida Housing Coalition
  • Bill Lazar – Executive Director, St. Johns Housing Partnership
  • Annamaria Long – Executive Officer, Flagler Home Builders Association
  • Maven Rogers – Chief Sustainability & Resiliency Officer, City of Palm Coast

The five panelists represent the for-profit sector (Culp), non-profit sector (Lazar), public sector (Rogers), and business leagues (Long, Glazer). They cover multiple facets of the housing industry, from development and construction to planning and accessibility. The forum will be moderated by Valerie Clymer, the Vice Chair of the Joint City of Palm Coast and Flagler County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

“We know this is early notice, but we want to provide ample notice for people to get this on their calendars,” said Flagler County Housing Program Manager Devrie Paradowski. “There will be a presentation by Florida Housing Coalition on local policy tools with updates on the Live Local Act: ‘With Live Local Act, should local governments do anything more to facilitate affordable housing development?’ among other topics.”

Skyrocketing Home Prices

The topic of affordable housing is one which has severe implications for the future health of Flagler County’s economy, especially as the City of Palm Coast blazes forward with an aggressive expansion plan which could put the county at over half a million residents in the coming decades. The median sale price for all home types in Florida was $241,000 as of January 2019. Since then, it’s skyrocketed to $404,000 as of January 2024.

According to the National Association of Realtors, Generation X buys homes with a higher median price than any other current generation, while the generations buying the cheapest homes tend to be younger millennials and baby boomers. Though the average cost of a home nowadays still far exceeds even the highest generational median buying prices, it threatens a crucial element of sustainable expansion for Palm Coast: the addition of more young families.

A study by Cornell University in 2012 wrote, “while some strategies for economic development have included marketing cities as retirement destinations for wealthy adults (grey gold) or as creative hot-beds for young talent (creative class), vibrant communities need people of all ages for long-term economic stability.”

The latest census data finds that as Palm Coast grows it’s trending older, not younger. The percentage of residents ages 65 and older was 25% in 2010, and was 30% as of 2020. The increased cost of buying a home is making a move to Flagler County by and large more tenable for seniors than families, a forecast which even Mayor David Alfin agrees is troubling. The effects of establishing a robust network of affordable housing in Palm Coast could be massive for its future economic health.

Flagler County’s Rent Crisis

The situation is not much better for those renting in Flagler County. One new housing development was announced to accommodate students in the upcoming University of North Florida campus in town center, but it will skew heavily in favor of those attending that program.

Using the navigator on Apartments.com, 272 rental spaces were listed in Flagler County, ranging from single rooms to full houses. The median monthly rent is $1,995, compared to a median Flagler rent of $1,561 reported in the Census Bureau. There are about the same number of options for those looking to rent at over $3,000 a month as there are for those staying under $1,500. There is one single listing less than a thousand dollars a month (excluding two $995s and a $999), while there’s five listings of $4,750 or more. Even that one single $861 listing is the absolute low end at Central Landings Senior Living in town center, unavailable to younger renters.

Crunching the numbers further, the median annual price of rent in Flagler County is $23,940. The annual income per capita in Flagler County according to the Census Bureau is $40,463, meaning rent is making up around 59.1% of many residents’ income. Common practice is to spend 30% of one’s income on rent, a guideline that’s virtually impossible for most Flagler County renters. The actual figure is nearly double.

Teachers in Flagler County make between $48k and $62k salary on average, according to Glassdoor. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, who advertises ‘competitive pay’ on their website, offers $41.5k salary to call-takers, $52.8k to new deputies, and $55.8k to human resources staff and public affairs officers. None of these figures allow educators and law enforcement personnel to devote only 30% of their income to rent at the county’s averages.

As a reminder, one of the topics of the May 17th luncheon is ‘should local governments do anything more to facilitate affordable housing development?’, per Devrie Paradowski’s quote earlier in this article.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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