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Rent in Tampa is rising. What can be done about it?

A realtor and other community leaders are fighting for action to keep people from being priced out and pushed out of their homes in Tampa Bay.

TAMPA, Fla. — Living in the Tampa Bay area is great. You've got sun, you've got beaches, you've got sports champions (back to back!) and gorgeous weather. So it's no surprise that people are flocking to the area.

The influx of new residents is driving up demand for housing...and bumping up the price. Tampa has been named the hottest housing market of 2022 by Zillow. The site projects that home values will grow by 24.6 percent this year. 

While the news may be exciting for landlords and homeowners looking to sell, it's making a lot of others feel uneasy about whether or not they'll be able to afford the skyrocketing prices.

"I began to receive requests from people that I relocated to Tampa. They started calling, asking me for a new place to live because their rent went up 600 or 800 dollars...That's a lot to ask from someone," Kella McCaskill said. She's a former loan officer turned realtor. 

She's also the founder of a nonprofit called the Center for Economic Development. She created the organization after she saw how the mortgage crisis of 2008 displaced hundreds of families. 

McCaskill created a community education event called The American Dream Fest, aimed at helping people around Tampa Bay learn about homeownership and all the things that go along with it. This year, there's a big focus on rent stabilization efforts in the Tampa Bay region. 

"If we do nothing, multiple thousands of people will be displaced and that will be a disaster," McCaskill said. 

"We're seeing 30 percent increases in rent prices. That's price gouging. If a grocer did that with food or someone did that with the price of water, it would be called gouging and it would be unacceptable. This is the same thing," said Nathan Hagen, a member of Yes In My Backyard, or YIMBY Tampa. He's also a resident of North Hyde Park, concerned with the upward trend of rent prices in the bay area. 

Both Hagen and McCaskill say immediate action needs to be taken. Whether it's changing rezoning regulations, funding more affordable housing, creating a state of emergency to keep rent from skyrocketing or rent stabilization efforts, they say something needs to be done quickly before Tampa's residents are forced out of their homes and their communities. 

"This is something that affects everyone, whether you rent, whether you own a home, whether you have kids that want to buy homes in a few years, everyone," Hagen said.

The rising rent is a concern for all walks of life and all Tampa Bay area residents. As people are forced to move into other more affordable communities, the supply shrinks, driving up the price of the rent in those areas rise as well.

McCaskill's American Dream Fest is a free informational workshop taking place on Saturday, Jan. 8 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. It's at the Hillsborough Community College Auditorium in Tampa.

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