A push for more affordable housing along the Suncoast

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 7:57 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Organizations along the Suncoast are teaming up to help people in need get the necessary help when it comes to finding a house they can afford.

“It’s definitely difficult to find something in Sarasota. Even if you go to Newtown, which people would consider the lower-class part in some areas, it’s still very hard to afford living,” says Aariyona, who has lived in Sarasota her whole life.

She was able to find a place relatively easy, but is worried about some vulnerable people being displaced as the cost of living has become too much for some to handle.

“The elderly residents are getting pushed out because they can’t keep up anymore,” says Aariyona.

The president of the Sarasota Housing Authority William Russell says Section 8 vouchers, which are given to people based on income levels, help cover a portion of rent for people in need.

“The demand for the vouchers far exceeds what we can provide for the community,” says Russell.

In order to qualify for these vouchers, the general threshold is earning 50% of less than the median income in the area, which according to the Sarasota Housing Authority website, would mean a single person making around $32,000 or less per year.

“Every time we open up the waitlist and take applications, we get thousands and thousands of applications. People desperately need it,” says Russell.

That’s where Bay First National Bank comes in, who has been working with the SHA to create a program that incentivizes landlords to invest in affordable housing.

“We’re trying to make more housing available by providing aggressive financing terms that is more flexible for each individual landlord,” says the bank’s market president Tom Quale.