Forum on affordable housing in Leon County

By: Lanetra Bennett
July 15, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Local officials say there is a housing problem. They say the problem is a lack of truly affordable rental units for extremely low income households.

The Big Bend Homeless Coalition says in Leon County, they're seeing higher rates of family homelessness and large numbers of people distressed economically.

Officials say the root cause is pretty simple: wages are too low to support access to housing.

Stakeholders in human services and local government sat down together Friday for an open forum on affordable housing. They're trying to come up with ways to help more people get into stable housing.

Latest reports show there are 609 homeless households in Leon County -- 768 individual homeless people.

Sylvia Smith, the Executive Director of the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, said, "It's heartbreaking because it's preventable. If we can get landlords and other partners engaged to open up opportunities for housing, we can prevent people from having to live in unacceptable conditions."

Overall, in Tallahassee, the instances of homelessness decreased from 808 people in 2015 to the 768. But, officials say it may not necessarily be an improvement because it may be partly due to reporting changes.

A major issue pointed out at the forum was it's not enough to have affordable housing, it should be livable as well.

Smith says homelessness can also be prevented with funding for rehabilitation of substandard housing.

The groups say they're going to get to work putting some of their ideas into action.

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