Hurricane Ian Is Straining Florida’s Affordable Housing

Also, how Asheville, North Carolina is responding to the ongoing affordable housing crisis.

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Hurricane Ian exacerbates Florida’s housing crisis and devastates trailer parks

Florida housing crisis faces new strains from Hurricane Ian, NBC News People whose homes have been destroyed are reportedly competing for an already scarce supply of affordable housing. The hurricane showed the vulnerability of prefab homes, according to NPR, which examined drone footage of a community of 178 devastated mobile homes, with many trailers “no longer recognizable as human habitation.” The Washington Post reports on a Fort Myers Shores trailer and RV park with 365 trailers, 90% of which were either destroyed or damaged by flooding.

According to NPR, older prefab homes are more vulnerable to high winds but are still desirable because of their affordability. Of the 822,000 mobile homes in the state, two-thirds were built before 1994, when the US government mandated stricter wind standards, according to NPR. While many Florida homeowners didn’t have flood insurance when the hurricane hit, most insurers refuse to cover older mobile homes altogether, according to the Post.

A salve for RV wear in Asheville, North Carolina

To address the ongoing affordable housing crisis, Asheville, North Carolina will repeal a law that prohibits prefab homes from occupying lots when a previous unit has been removed The Asheville Citizen Times. The law currently prevents a new manufactured home from occupying a lot at an RV park if that lot has been vacant for 180 days. But a newly-approved change to the city’s zoning — which will be presented to City Council on Oct. 30 — removes such restrictions at RV parks. In certain areas outside of RV sites, the vacancy limit has been extended to 365 days. The law will help home builders whose damaged trailers have long repair times of more than 180 days. It should also slow the demolition of trailer lots in the city, although it does nothing to expand existing lots.

As in many cities, residents in Asheville have turned to manufactured homes due to a lack of affordable housing and despite the zoning that has pushed them out of many cities and suburbs. According to Citizen Times, rentals at Asheville’s trailer parks serve people who earn 30-40% of the area’s median income.

The LA Section 8 waitlist is reopening due to high demand

After five years, Los Angeles will reopen its Section 8 housing waitlist, allowing 30,000 residents to apply for federal housing choice vouchers. according to a Press release, the application will be open October 17-30, after which the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority (HACLA) will select 30,000 applicants through a random lottery. As the LA Times points out, the Section 8 waitlist was last open to applicants in 2017, resulting in over 187,000 applications representing over 457,000 people, all vying for 20,000 spots. The need is even greater now, as homelessness in Los Angeles increased by 26% between 2018 and 2020 and by 4.1% between 2020 and 2022. HACLA’s head told the LA Times that they expect 365,000 applications this year. Applicants must qualify as “extremely low income” to apply, which HACLA defines as less than 30% of the area’s median income. Voucher holders only spend between 30-40% of their income on rent, the rest is paid by the federal government. If a resident is lucky enough to get a voucher, they will be competing for a shrinking supply of affordable housing due to the city’s ongoing shortage of affordable housing.

HUD assigns over 2.2 million Housing Choice vouchers to public housing authorities across the country based on need and population.

Recommended reading

The New York Focus reports on how The suburbs of New York City, particularly Long Island and the Hudson Valley, are building housing at lower rates than almost any suburban region in the country, compounding the city’s housing costs.

A Street Easy report finds that Wage growth in New York City lagged rent growth by 23% year over year, the largest such gap since 2008. Real wages in the city fell 9.1% year-on-year due to inflation, while rents rose 13.4% year-on-year.

Roshan Abraham is Next City’s housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities grantee. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.