The state of Florida is suffering from a real estate crisis following the landfall of Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael left a trail of damage in its wake, which has affected the housing market in the Florida Panhandle area. Panama City, Florida was grossly affected by the storm, which reached wind speeds of 155 miles per hour.
Although the storm made landfall in October of 2018, the real estate market is still struggling to get back up. Sales of townhouses, condominiums, and other housing units went down to 30 percent in the last quarter of 2018. As of February 2019, statewide sales of housing units increased by only 2 percent.
The local government is making considerable efforts to revitalize the housing market in the area of the Florida Panhandle. The Fort Walton Beach Housing Authority has received the certificate of occupancy for the Church Street Apartments. The two-storey, 12-unit apartment complex is located at 101 Church Avenue, S.E. The complex consists of eight single bedroom units and four units with two bedrooms. With the recent acquisition of this apartment complex, local housing officials are hoping to bring sales back up to normal.
High crime rate
While local officials are working to return the sales of townhouses and condominiums to a reasonable level, the fact remains that the overall crime rate in Florida is still pretty high. While the crime rates in Florida have been on a downward trend since 2017, the state remains one of the places in the US that have a higher crime rate in comparison to the national mean. Fort Walton Beach for one, has a higher crime rate compared to the Florida average, with 3,079 offenses per 100,000 population.
The higher crime rate is affecting the ability of the housing market to bounce back quickly. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is exhausting all efforts to reduce the crime rate in the state by increasing the number of uniformed officers in all counties. The number of businesses providing legal counsel have also increased, with offices like Flaherty Defense Firm now practicing law in the Fort Walton Beach area.
The lack of affordable housing options is also contributing to the real estate crisis in Florida. Various areas in Florida like Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa County are experiencing a rise in luxury apartments, sparking concerns of gentrification. But with many of the citizens in Florida in retirement age, getting a roof over their heads is proving to be increasingly difficult.
The Homelessness and Housing Alliance is aware of the current situation in Florida. Other groups involved in housing like the Fort Walton Beach Housing Authority are working with state officials to address the lack of affordable housing in Florida. Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Fort Walton Beach Housing Authority is issuing vouchers to help house families in apartment complexes that are participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Programs.
But authorities acknowledge that the reason why a lot of landlords choose to abstain from participating in such housing programs is because of the lack of education regarding the process. The Fort Walton Beach Housing Authority is looking to launch drives to educate landlords in an effort to increase the number of affordable housing units available in the state.